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Dave’s Big Break

Nope, I haven’t just been signed to a major record-label, and I won’t be starring alongside the A-listers in the next Hollywood blockbuster. Unfortunately the ‘break’ in this instance refers to more of a fooling-around-in-the-snow-leg-bone-sort-of ‘break’.

Back at the beginning of the year, a nice weekend in London swiftly turned into an evening in A&E. An x-ray discovered two breaks in the right leg and a crack in the ankle. Yes, I did it good and proper. After a few days in Hospital, I was en route up-north for some convalescence with my parents. 15 weeks of home-cooking, pampering and intense physiotherapy later, I made my way back to Brum and back to the Trust.

It’s been an interesting few weeks, getting settled back, reminding myself how to transfer a call again and catching up on all the gossip. Heartbeat has gone into the space-age with a funky new online version (saving trees in the process) and the Communications website is looking better than ever.

The whole experience gave me an excellent opportunity to see my job from the ‘other-side’, from the patient’s point of view. It reminded me how important our NHS is, and the amazing work staff on the front-line do to deliver this service. The Heart of England Trust is no exception, so keep coming back for more updates on the exciting stories and events happening at our Hospitals.

So it’s back to normality for me, and hopefully a nice long hot summer, with no snow based breakages in sight…

Professor Barnett
Professor Barnett

A Hospital Professor has received the Banting Memorial Lecture Award in recognition of his groundbreaking research into the prevention, causes and management of diabetes.

The findings of Professor Anthony Barnett, who works for Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospitals, have led to a better understanding of the causes and complications of diabetes – a condition affecting more than 2 million people in the UK and potentially 750,000 more undiagnosed sufferers.

Professor Barnett’s research has aided the development of new treatments for diabetes which are considered to be better tolerated than traditional methods, and also gives particular focus to the provision of care for the South Asian population, who have an increased risk of contracting type 2 diabetes.

Professor Barnett said: “Whilst this award is a great personal honour, I must pay tribute to the fantastic team around me who have helped and supported this research as well as key outside collaborators. Without their support, this work could not have been carried out.

“Patients and researchers like me are also benefiting from world class facilities afforded by the new £12m Diabetes Centre and Medical Innovation Development and Research Unit (MIDRU), based at Heartlands Hospital. This ensures our patients have the very best access to new developments and treatments in diabetes care.”

The Banting Award, named after Fredrick Banting for his discovery of insulin in 1921, is the highest accolade that can be given and is presented by Diabetes UK only to figures of international standing who have greatly contributed to the field of diabetes.

Left to right – Amanda Mellon, Senior Chief GI Physiologist, Cheryl Hudson, Good Hope Associate Director, Mr Stephan Korsgen, consultant coloproctologist, Jane Roland, Holly Trust Secretary and Elizabeth Masson, chairman of Holly Trust.
Left to right – Amanda Mellon, Senior Chief GI Physiologist, Cheryl Hudson, Good Hope Associate Director, Mr Stephan Korsgen, consultant coloproctologist, Jane Roland, Holly Trust Secretary and Elizabeth Masson, chairman of Holly Trust.

Patients at Good Hope Hospital have welcomed a new piece of equipment to help doctors diagnose bowel cancer, the third most common form of cancer in the West Midlands.

The 3D endorectal ultrasound machine was donated by Sutton Coldfield bowel cancer charity, the Holly Trust and will be used to detect and assess cancer early; meaning major surgery may be avoided.

Mr Stephan Korsgen, consultant coloproctologist said: “Good Hope is the leading Hospital in the region for treating early rectal cancer, a form of bowel cancer, and this machine will help us in our fight against the disease.

“Patients referred to our department with lumps or small cancers were previously assessed with a two-dimensional ultrasound machine. The new machine obtains pictures in three-dimensions which increases the accuracy of the assessment from 80 percent to 90 percent.

“Once correctly assessed, the device enables us to select patients who are suitable to have the lumps removed using a technique called Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery (TEM). TEM ensures that rather than undergoing major surgery with a hospital stay of 5 to 10 days, patients just stay overnight.”

The Holly Trust is a local charity aiming to promote awareness of bowel cancer and provide support to individuals and local hospitals. For further information visit

Today we have made public an independent review that we requested last year into our paediatric services. The aim of the external review was to see if there were further lessons we could learn in relation to patient safety and to ensure that the Trust and everyone using the service could have confidence in the service provided.

We have accepted the recommendations of the review team and are in the process of addressing every area to ensure we are delivering the highest standard of care to our patients.

A full outline of the review’s recommendations and actions as well as a copy of the report are available here.

Dr John Watson
Dr John Watson

With one in three HIV sufferers in the region unaware they have the disease, Birmingham Heartlands HIV Service is supporting calls for routine testing of HIV in local hospitals.

Three reports uncovered a “lottery” of testing in hospitals, with healthcare professionals embarrassed to ask patients for tests despite most people accepting the test once offered.  Early diagnosis of HIV ensures the most effective treatment can be given, prolonging a person’s life and reducing the risk of accidentally infecting others.

Dr John Watson, consultant at the Birmingham Heartlands HIV Service, said; “We appreciate that asking someone to take a HIV test can be awkward, but it really can save lives. With HIV in the West Midlands on the rise, it is very important people know the earlier they are tested and diagnosed, the more effective the treatment.  A brief chat to the patient advising them it’s one of the routine tests done when presenting with a range of conditions is all that is needed by health care professionals.   Treatment is now so advanced that people with HIV who are diagnosed early can still lead a long, healthy life.

“The Birmingham Heartlands HIV Service has been pushing for more acceptance of HIV testing in hospital and of course, in the community, by urging local people to get tested.  If you are in hospital don’t be surprised if a HIV test is routinely offered and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to include a HIV test with the rest of your tests.  It could save your life.”

Birmingham Heartlands HIV Service, based in Heartlands Hospital, is one of the leading HIV research units in the country and has been championing HIV testing since it first opened. The clinic offers same day HIV tests, finger prick HIV fast tests and a series of clinics for adults and families, as well as the region’s HIV paediatric service for children.

The reports come from the Second Joint Conference of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV and the British HIV Association conference held in Manchester this month.

For more information on getting tested for HIV, visit or call the Heartlands HIV Service on 0121 424 1366 to book an appointment.

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