Tag Archives: Worcester News

Christmas @ The Royal: AMU, BEECH & MATERNITY

From Worcester News. 30th December 2013

From Worcester News. 30th December 2013

I had great fun putting this article together with my friends and colleagues and want to thank Tarik Al Rasheed from the Worcester News for widening its focus. Here is the full blog which I composed.

OK, let’s face facts. No one really wants to be in Hospital at all, let alone at Christmas. The season seems to speak loudly of fun, and jollity, and the TV wants us to think that everyone is having the most special and enjoyable time of their lives. We all know it’s a fiction, but we still buy into it.

But for many people Christmas will be different this year. They will be spending it in Worcestershire Royal. So is it just another day at the office for the Nurses? Well, let them tell you in their own words. This is nursing; recognising the patients’ needs at whatever time of year, and meeting them with professionalism, compassion and care.”


Alison Davis is Matron for Surgery and has been nursing for 30 odd years (although she doesn’t look it!). She reckons she must have worked more than 20 Christmas days in her career and she loves it.
“Of course, most of the patients who can go home are discharged, but for the patients who remain on the wards the staff pull out all the stops and go the extra mile. It’s wonderful to see how the staff are always putting themselves out, making the patients feel as relaxed as possible. This year, of course, we will be putting up our decorations on the Beech Unit and on Christmas Day the patients will have their Christmas Meal with a cracker and lovely Christmassy napkin, and be given a present from us. It really is lovely to see the staff so happy as well.”
Alison and the staff are well aware that Christmas can be a sad time for some. “Invariably on our wards there will be people for whom this Christmas is the first one on their own, having had the sadness of losing their spouse, but the staff do their bit and offer some and love. And we can always stretch to getting those who are well enough to go home for a few hours for the day.”
Matron’s favourite Christmas story is from a few years back, in a different place. “A young boy had been in a Road Traffic Accident. He had been unconscious for a few days and it just so happened that Carol Singers came around the ward; and whilst singing “Away in a Manger” the young boy woke up.”


Anita Cupper is Matron for Medicine. She too has long experience in the NHS and has had worked more than 15 Christmases- and despite being off this year she will come in on Christmas Day and wish all her patients on the Acute Medical Unit (one of the busiest wards at Worcester Royal with 900+ patients per month) a “Merry Christmas”. Again there will be decorations and gifts for patients on a ward which will be fully staffed. Anita, described by her colleagues as a “whirlwind”, said that the ward will be full of happiness and cheer, although is well aware that there will be some people who have no family or visitors. “It is up to us provide that family element which some patients will be lacking,” she says with passion. “After all that is what nursing is all about. If Christmas is about anything it is about believing you can make anything happen!” Senior Sister Ruth Clack overhears us talking and shares her Christmas story. “One Christmas Eve I admitted a patient who came in very poorly. The Medic thought his chances of surviving were slim and I stayed late to transfer him to the Intensive Care Unit. I was delighted to see him back with us three days later and he had three good years more of quality life.” But perhaps most touching, Ruth told me that on the day that he died, “the patient’s wife phoned me to tell me the news and how much I had meant to the family. This was a while ago but it’s funny what you remember.”


The maternity unit at Worcestershire Royal is a special place, and with all the hype of Christmas you would be forgiven for thinking that it was the centre of Christmas in the Hospital. After all we have all seen the TV programmes on Christmas Day from Maternity Wards celebrating Christmas Babies, and the ward at Worcester often has the local radio station phoning up on 25th December asking “if they have enough hay and hot water.”
“But mostly for us it is a normal working day,” says Pam. “We enjoy working at Christmas, and it is a privilege to be involved with bringing new life into the world, but our main aim is to help the women deliver their babies safely, efficiently and in as comfortable a way as possible as with every day. Once the baby is born, the family want to get them home as quickly as possible and we do our very best to facilitate that. We do, of course, recognise it as a special time of year and celebrate it. And this year the Community Champion at ASDA in Worcester has kindly donated some festive baby clothes which we will give to each family, along with a little gift for each baby.”


“There is a buzz about the hospital at this time of year, like there is everywhere else, which in some ways makes my job more challenging. So there are times of great sadness, when families need a supportive and sympathetic person to be with them for a spell; and times of great joy which are worth a celebration. The hospital is life writ large, but to be there for people in sorrow or joy is an enormous privilege. I take my hat off to all the staff working over the Christmas period. I can assure you that you will have the same level of professionalism and support as at any other time of the year and staff will continue to go the extra mile. So my thoughts and prayers are for peace this Christmastime wherever people are and whatever the challenges they are facing.”

“And Frankie Makes Three.” Guest Blogger Lisa Ventura on the joys and challenges of pregnancy

Baby Frankie's 23 week Scan

Baby Frankie’s 23 week Scan

Lisa Ventura is this weeks Guest Blogger. In this post she explains how she dealt with the news of that her unborn baby has a cleft lip and possibly palate. It is inspiring; life affirming; energising and beautiful- and I will be following her posts on her blog http://www.babyandcleft.co.uk. Her words speak for her and here is her story – so far…

Proud Mum-To-Be Lisa Ventura

Proud Mum-To-Be Lisa Ventura

“I first found out about this wonderful blog when I saw an article in the Worcester News about it last summer. It was very timely for me as I was going to write to the Worcester News to say a huge thank you to Jane Brassington and the staff at the Early Pregnancy Unit at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital for their support and care in the early stages of my pregnancy, after suffering six miscarraiges over the years. I also wrote to David, who featured my email to him and subsequent letter that the Worcester News printed, and spent hours reading all the positive good news stories contained in the blog.

All was progressing well with my pregnancy but at 23 weeks my unborn baby boy, who my husband and I named Francesco Enrico, was diagnosed with a unilateral cleft lip and possibly palate. I’d had my 20 week anomaly scan at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital where my husband and I found out I was having a baby boy, and I was asked to return at 23 weeks as the sonographer couldn’t get a good look at his heart and face because his hands were in the way. So it was at that 23 week scan that we were told he would be born with a cleft lip and possibly palate.

I was referred for an urgent scan up at Birmingham Women’s Hospital to confirm the diagnosis and was amazed to get an appointment up there literally 3 working days after the cleft lip was first picked up. The scan in Birmingham confirmed the diagnosis – my husband and I were initially devastated. I knew nothing about the condition, and blamed myself for it even though I have never smoked, hardly drank and even gave it up completely before I was pregnant, took folic acid every day without fail along with a pregnancy vitamin and took it as easy as I could during the early days. It was simply put down to “one of those things”.

Once I had come to terms with the diagnosis a little more I came across the Cleft Lip And Palate Association (CLAPA) and got in touch with them . They were incredibly supportive and let me ask as many questions as I needed. The more I found out from them, the more reassured I became. I was astonished to find out that 1 in 700 babies in the UK are born with a cleft lip and palate, and there is no known cause as to why.

With such a high rate of 1 in 700 babies being diagnosed with a cleft lip and palate, I decided to use my skills to raise as much awareness of the condition as possible and provide a much needed support network to parents locally. CLAPA doesn’t have a branch in Worcestershire/The West Midlands and I have been in touch with them about setting this up. If it can go ahead then I hope it can happen in partnership with Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust and through antenatal clinics, midwives and other support networks such as NCT. I am also in the process of hopefully setting up a Happy Smiles group, also in conjunction with CLAPA.

Parents-to- be generally have vaguely heard of the condition but have no idea exactly what it is until they get a diagnosis – I know that my husband and I certainly fall into this category. Coupled with society’s view of perfection and beauty I feel that much needs to be done to raise awareness of cleft lip and palate in Worcestershire and the Midlands. We are fortunate enough to be near one of the best cleft lip and palate teams in the country at Birmingham Women’s and Birmingham Children’s Hospitals, and in the coming months I will be trying to raise as much awareness as possible of the condition through blogging, PR, fundraising, using social media and interacting with parents/children who were born with a cleft lip and palate. In addition, according to statistics from CLAPA that were released at their latest annual conference 60% of parents were unhappy with how their diagnosis was delivered to them. I would like to see some support and additional training for sonographers to help them let parents know about a cleft lip and palate diagnosis in a sensitive and empathetic way.

I was so inspired by the Chaplain’s Blog and the great work that David is doing that it encouraged me to start my own to document my journey as a Mum to be of a baby boy with a cleft lip and possibly palate – http://www.babyandcleft.co.uk. Not only will it be a way for me to share what I’m going through and the journey I’m now on with my husband and my unborn baby boy, but I hope it will become a positive blog containing success stories, good news about cleft children who have overcome the condition and an information resource for parents. I look forward to liaising more with Rev David Southall about this condition, and would love to hear from anyone or any parents whose children have been diagnosed with cleft lip/palate and would like to help me with my awareness campaign, or have their success story featured on my blog.

Please get in touch with me via enquiries@babyandcleft.co.uk – I’m also on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/babyandcleft, and twitter http://www.twitter.com/babyandcleft. I look forward to hearing from you and if any of you out there who have children with a cleft lip/palate, or are expecting a baby with a cleft lip/palate, you are definitely not alone.”

I am hugely grateful to Lisa for this story. And I feel supremely privileged that she would let us see the scan of her beautiful boy.

If you would like your story to feature on the site, or be a Guest Blogger- just post me something via the contact details above.

Finally, if you have two minutes to take a quick survey to make this blog better then please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HXSSGHN.

“God really does grant miracles” Lisa’s story in praise of EPU

Good news blog in Worcester news

Good news blog in Worcester news (Click on image to enlarge)

I have had a fantastic respose to the article published in the Worcester News above and Lisa wrote to in to the paper of her experience: http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/letters/read/10586417.Hospital_staff_are_absolutely_brilliant/)

She aslo emailed me personally and asked that I share this.

“I very much enjoyed reading the article in yesterday’s Worcester News about you and your “Good News” blog from Worcestershire Hospitals by Tarik Al Rasheed on Monday 29th July.

This article in the paper was very timely for me as I would like to say a huge thank you to Jane Brassington and her team at the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. I am four months pregnant and after a series of miscarriages over the years this is the furthest I’ve gone and the department’s care was exemplary. I was offered scans at 6, 8 and 10 weeks prior to my official 12 week scan to ensure that all was going well with my pregnancy along with regular check-ups, and was able to call any time and speak to a nurse or midwife with any concerns or queries I had, no matter how small they were. I also had excellent care after suffering 6 miscarriages, including masses of tests to try and find out the cause and they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. My first husband and I then separated and divorced last year. I remarried in April this year to a wonderful man Russell, this is our first pregnancy together and it has gone swimmingly so far. We are ecstatic about the baby and can’t wait to be parents, God really does grant miracles as I honestly thought I would never be a mother.

As the article in the Worcester News states we hear such horror stories about mistakes and blunders in our hospitals and NHS system that it is all too easy to lose sight of the good care and treatment that patients receive, and I hope you will consider posting my “good news” story on your website.

I’ve written to the Worcester News too and I’m the Director and Founder of the Worcestershire Literary Festival – http://www.worcslitfest.com. I would love to include a link to your blog on our website and write a post for our own blog and newsletter to encourage those within our circles to send in their own good news stories. Please keep up the great work you are doing with the blog.

Kind regards,

Lisa Ventura”

It still amazes me how readily people will share their good news stories if they are given a forum. A huge thanks to Lisa for writing so personally and honestly.And your story can appear here as well. Just email me at revdavidsouthall@aol.com or comment on this post. Good news can spread like wildfire if we let it.