05.08.2016

What makes the Newcastle Hospitals 'Outstanding'?

Here is another fantastic reason why the Newcastle Hospitals has been rated 'Outstanding' by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH) – one of only two Children’s Hospitals in the country to receive an ‘Outstanding’ rating from the CQC – is one of the largest in the country, seeing over 75,000 babies, children and teenagers every year. It’s the only specialist Children’s Hospital in the North East of England and one of the many specialist conditions it treats is childhood cancer (oncology).

Childhood cancer is rare yet over 120 children and teenagers are diagnosed with the disease in the North East and Cumbria every year. Thanks to major advances in research and treatment, more children are successfully treated than ever before.

Our Children’s Oncology Centre treats children and young people under the age of 19 who have been diagnosed with cancer, leukaemia or other related diseases.  It is one of the largest, most advanced centres in the UK, providing a comprehensive range of leading edge oncology services, with each treatment tailored to the specific needs of each of our young patients.

The Great North Children's Oncology Team on Ward 4

Our wonderful cancer specialists were mentioned numerous times in the CQC’s report for ‘Outstanding’ practice. The CQC Inspectors said:

“The matron from oncology services told us the long-term cancer outcomes were the best in the country. Data provided to us by the Trust showed the five-year survival rate for children and young people between 0 and 19 years was over 82%. This was higher than the national average and indicated the North of England Cancer Network was the best performing network out of 28 across the country.

“Paediatric oncologists were developing pioneering experimental therapy to help reduce deaths from aggressive childhood cancers. Early phase intervention treatments and clinical trials were underway to save children diagnosed with neuroblastoma and other rare, high-risk cancers. The team had developed a new Northern Network, which included children’s cancer centres in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to increase the number of children who could be involved in the new clinical trials.

“The GNCH had an established clinical trials team that worked closely with Newcastle University. We spoke with research nurses from the oncology service who explained their purpose, which was improving outcomes for children and young people with cancer.

The Great North Children's Oncology Team on Ward 14 - the Children's Day Oncology Unit

“There were arrangements for young people to transition to adult services. We reviewed the Trust’s comprehensive Transitional Care from Paediatric to Adult services. Guidelines, developed in line with national guidance, which clearly set out each stage in the process. We spoke with staff from different wards who could clearly explain the process to us. Children also transitioned within some specialist services when they reached a certain milestone. For example, once a child became a teenager at the age of 13, the oncology team supported the transition of the patient to the Teenage Cancer Unit. The senior nurse told us, ‘we have a party, as the children are very excited to move across’.

“Responses from teenager cancer patients from a ‘So How Are We Doing’ survey were very positive. 100% of responders said, overall, they were given enough support from the team looking after them and 90% said they were given enough information about their condition at the time they were first diagnosed.

“There were excellent facilities available for children and young people, encouraging them to play and relax, across the whole hospital. For example, the Teenage Cancer Unit had dedicated bed areas and bays with facilities for a family member to stay with them overnight. Communal areas included a ‘penthouse’ with a pool table, jukebox, television, DVD and games consoles. There was a quiet room and information areas plus iPod touch tablets and laptops. Staff explained there was also a program of facilitated sessions that included an exercise programme, food activities, animation and filmmaking, and themed parties. Free Wi-Fi was available throughout the GNCH.

“Young people from the Teenage Cancer Unit were involved in making a DVD, designed to welcome new patients to the unit. Although the Unit’s animator helped them develop it, the teenagers determined the content, which included information ranging from what to eat and taking your own temperature.

“The GNCH had recently adopted an ambulance from the Daft as a Brush cancer charity, to transport children and their families to and from wards 4 and 14 at the hospital. The design and name of the ambulance, Happy-O-Saurus, was decided by the children themselves.

“Nursing staff from oncology told us good links with pharmacy meant discharge was swift and effective. For example, the ward alerted the pharmacy team several days before the planned discharge date. The pharmacist lead for the service prepared individualised education boxes and spoke with the family to explain the administration process. If additional medication was required prior to discharge, there was a fast-track system, where the pharmacy lead would take the script directly to pharmacy to prevent any delays.”

No wonder our Oncology Services were rated Outstanding!

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