Celebrating 70 years of the NHS: Going above and beyond the call of duty

Left, Rachael Moses (consultant physiotherapist), right, Alison Birtle (consultant oncologist)
Left, Rachael Moses (consultant physiotherapist), right, Alison Birtle (consultant oncologist)
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The NHS is one of the largest employers in the world, without about 1.5 million people working for it.

We speak to just two of the staff members here in Lancashire to find out about the amazing work they do.

Rachael Moses is on a mission.

She wants to find the people who are not able to live their lives to the full and help them to change that - to be able to speak again, to eat normally and not to worry about going to the toilet.

Having a tracheostomy surgery is a life-saving procedure. It saves patients’ lives but, because the tracheostomies are often left in unnecessarily, it is not helping them to live.

Tracheostomy surgery is when an opening created at the front of the neck so that a tube can be inserted into the windpipe to helps a patient to breathe.

While it is a life-saver it can also mean that afterwards patients will have trouble speaking, eating, controlling their bladder and being sexually active.

But with optimal specialist care Rachael says that many of these tracheostomies can be removed.

“Just getting the tracheostomies out we got people eating again and talking again,” said Rachael, who says that after the procedure because of a lack of hospital and rehabilitation beds patients are discharged into community and follow up from medics is not a given.

She said: “They are being left in a vegetative state because the focus is to get them out of the hospital.”

Rachael has just completed a project where five tracheostomy patients were reassessed and successfully had their tracheostomies removed, saving £450K per annum and improving the patients’ experiences.

She now hopes to start a 12-month pilot trial where she will track down people who have tracheostomies and get them out, allowing patients to work towards going back to living better.

“The reason I’ve called for a pilot trial is because we have no idea how many people are out there,” she said.

“We have seen some wonderful patient stories of individuals regaining speech and being able to eat and drink normally as well as improvements in overall physical function and ability through this work.

“This initiative is also addressing the need for a more proactive approach to ensure all patients are identified and have their tracheostomy removed wherever clinically appropriate.”

Rachael also says that to help people in this kind of situation the NHS needs more consultants - not just doctors and surgeons but more physios, dietitians and speech and language specialists to help people recover after life-saving surgery.

“People who make up the NHS aren’t just doctors,” she said. ”To meet the needs of the patients we are going to need more people who provide specialist services.

“We are changing the natural progression of disease processes and because of that people are surviving with more complex health and social care needs, complex needs, and that demands specialist support from a range of health care professionals.”

Get involved

In the years since 1948, the NHS has cared for us all, from cradle to grave.

We would like our readers to help us celebrate the NHS, and the fabulous men and women who work in it, by sharing their stories of how the NHS has helped them.

From bringing mother and babies through difficult births, to cutting edge cancer treatments and life-saving emergency care, we want to hear from you.

If you have a story to share please email lep.newsdesk@lep.co.uk including your number, or call 01772 838164.

Poem thanks staff for their care

Many patients are grateful for the care their receive at the county’s hospital, but this pair went the extra mile to show their gratitude.

June Hinchcliffe has written a poem to thank staff at Royal Preston Hospital’s A&E department for their care for her husband.

John Hinchliffe was rushed to A&E with a suspected heart attack last year.

June said: “We couldn’t fault anyone that we came into contact with.

“All of the staff at Royal Preston Hospital were absolutely marvellous from start to finish.

“Obviously, John needed care urgently, and staff made sure that he was cared for quickly and professionally.”

John added: “Everybody was just wonderful. We came across some brilliant people from the nurses to the surgeons to everyone in between; everyone was just so nice and caring.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

To show her gratitude, Joan wrote a poem which she sent in to the department to say thank you.

The poem includes the line: “All day and night you cared for us, You could not have done things better, And this is the mean reason, we are sending you this letter.”

Ayman Jundi, Emergency Department Consultant at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals said: “It’s always great to receive such kind words and gifts from patients who we have cared for.

Everything we do is aimed at helping people, and the greatest reward is always to find out that someone has made a good recovery as a result of our actions.”