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Hospital medics call for wider testing for HIV with 1 in 4 infected unaware

Birmingham doctors are calling for wider testing for HIV after more than 400 new cases were diagnosed in the West Midlands last year and one in four people are unaware they have the infection.

Medics are supporting the National Time to Test campaign which launches today (Dec 1st World Aids Day) with an aim to improve early diagnosis by increasing routine testing for HIV.

Dr Steve Taylor, HIV specialist at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, and media spokesperson for the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV [BASHH] said: “There has been a 428 per cent increase in HIV diagnosis in the West Midlands between 2000 and 2009. Furthermore, Heterosexuals acquiring their infection in the UK made up over 28% of all new HIV diagnoses in the West Midlands last year.

“By targeting those patients who visit their doctor with common medical conditions such as glandular fever, pneumonia, unexplained weight loss and chronic diarrhoea we hope to see the rate of undiagnosed HIV cases fall.”

Dr Keith Radcliffe president of BASHH and Consultant Sexual health HIV Physician at the Whittall Street Clinic said “One of the continuing challenges is the widespread confusion about who can contract HIV, and about the consequences of taking a test. Heterosexuals are sometimes wrongly perceived to be a group not at risk. They therefore do not get tested, and so over sixty percent of heterosexuals with HIV, present themselves to a doctor when their condition is already so advanced that they need to be on treatment.”

“By making a positive diagnosis early you could save lives, allowing patients the chance of life saving antiretroviral treatment. Not testing could have fatal consequences.”

The ‘Time to Test’ campaign is targeting all health care professionals within Hospitals and General Practice to try and increase HIV testing in areas of high HIV prevalence.” Both Heart of Birmingham Teaching PCT and Coventry PCT now have HIV prevalence rates greater than 2-1000 of the population, the threshold at which expanded HIV testing (in medical admissions and primary care registrations) in adults is recommended.

Anyone who has had unprotected sex is at risk of HIV, and may unknowingly be spreading it to their sexual partners. HIV is often without symptoms in its early stages, meaning that the only way to be sure a person is not infected is to carry out a blood test.

Full details of West Midlands statistics and resources can be found on the Sexual Health Birmingham

Children in Need 1It was all a board at Heartlands as a hospital nurse was held at ransom by staff and patients and over £1,000 was raised for Children in Need.

Chris Morrell, hospital play specialist, said: “We really wanted to get involved in Children in Need and do something different to raise money. By kidnapping our head nurse and visiting all the wards we can get everyone from staff to patients and visitors involved. We hope to raise lots of money for the cause.”

Jackie Edwards, head nurse for paediatrics was taken to wards at Heartlands and Good Hope hospitals by colleagues and youngsters dressed as pirates to collect the ransoms for her release.

Friends of Solihull Hospital (FOSH) are set to raise a massive £87,000 to buy much needed equipment for hospital patients.

The group would like to raise the money to fund a laparoscopic camera stacking system used to perform keyhole surgery. The new equipment would mean patients could benefit from smaller operating wounds, less invasive surgery, a reduced stay in hospital and a quicker recovery.

Amanda Marnock, director of operations for ambulatory care said; “This new piece of equipment will be invaluable to the Trust and will benefit many patients as it can be used in a number of different procedures.”

Liz Steventon, friends of Solihull Hospital secretary, said: “We have been raising funds to support Solihull Hospital since 1953 and in that time has raised over £600,000. When this opportunity came to support such a huge cause we were delighted.”

“It’s an ambitious target, four times what we would usually raise in a year, but we’re really starting to gather momentum and want any help people or local companies can give us, whether it be £1 or £1000 we are really grateful for anything anyone can spare ”

The group will be holding a number of events for people to get involved in so look out for ways for you to get involved over the coming weeks. If you would like to make a donation or volunteer, call Liz on 07909912525

Good Hope Hospital is to open its books to members of the public, as it hosts a talk on the Hospital’s financial developments this week.

Led by deputy Hospital finance operations director, Jonathan Gould, the talk will discuss the current state of the hospital’s finances, as well as plans for redevelopment and how recent announcements of changes in the NHS may affect the Hospital.

Jonathan Gould said: “The Hospital has embarked on an ambitious new redevelopment program, including the new Ward Block One building which is due for completion early next year and we’ve recently announced plans to refurbish A&E. It’s an exciting time for Good Hope and a lot of people are interested in the plans for the future, including how we intend to finance this and how our finances are doing generally.”

The event is taking place at Good Hope Hospital on Wednesday 24 November in the Hospital’s Education Centre from 5pm. To book a place or find out more, please contact membership manager Sandra White on 0121 424 1218 or email

Good Hope Hospital nurses were recognised by the Nursing Times Awards this week for their efforts in improving care for local women.

The gynaecology nursing team at the hospital were ‘highly commended’ for their management of the patient journey for early pregnancy losses. Improvements such as reducing overnight admissions and waiting times for surgical procedures were put into place to make the service more efficient for patients.

Jacqui Rutter, senior nurse lead for Gynaecology assessment unit, said; “When managing this project we have ensured patient care is at the centre of its development. We have seen admission rates and A&E attendance reduce and patients are benefitting from reduced waiting times for surgery and ongoing counselling and support following their loss.

“The project has resulted in an improvement in key quality indicators such as, effectiveness of care, safety of care and the patient experience.”

The Nursing Times Awards acknowledge and celebrate outstanding contributions made to the nursing profession by truly exceptional and dedicated nurses, midwives and health visitors in the UK.

New Attitudes sexual health and contraception service team pic 1Young people are to benefit from a new and first of its kind contraception and sexual health service when it opens in the West Midlands this week.

The nurse-led service, based on Erdington High Street, offers a patient-focused, fresh approach to sexual health. Open six days a week on a drop-in basis, the clinic provides a full range of sexual health care – from contraception, free condoms, pregnancy testing and emergency contraception, through to STI testing and treatment.

Purpose built, modern and inviting, the clinic was born as a direct result of asking both the public and professionals what they would want out of a sexual health clinic and what issues matter most to them. The service is based on the second floor of Erdington Health and Well-being Walk-in Centre – right on the High Street, but upstairs and away from prying eyes.

Cathie Hill, lead nurse at New Attitudes, said: “We have seen a continual and sharp increase in teenage pregnancy, terminations and sexually transmitted infections in the region over the past few years, so myself and the nursing team are really excited to be able to provide this much-needed, forward thinking and most of all, welcoming service for locals.

“The service is completely free, confidential and no appointment is necessary – simply come along Monday to Friday 9am until 7pm, or Saturday 11am until 3pm and we will ensure you are treated swiftly in a friendly and non-judgemental environment.”

For more information about New Attitudes contraception and sexual health centre, call 0121 686 8030 or

GH0098 Tesco donation to Good Hope 2aGood Hope Hospital’s children’s ward scored big as it received a generous donation from a local supermarket last week.

Tesco in New Oscott donated several boxes of official England merchandise, including mini-footballs and soft-toys of the lion mascot, to the children being treated in the Harvey ward at Good Hope.

Theresa Hull, play specialist at Good Hope, said: “We’re really grateful for the donation from Tesco.  Whilst all the children on the ward will enjoy the footballs and soft toys, the slightly older boys going down to theatre for operations will particularly love them.”

Tesco New Oscott’s community champion, Mick Sayce, said: “We’re a local supermarket committed to the local area and we wanted to continue this by giving back to the local community, so we chose to donate the toys to Good Hope’s children’s ward.”

LaverickA local health chief has praised Good Hope staff for their dedication and professionalism in ensuring the running of the Hospital remains unaffected, following a bomb threat at the site last week.

The police and bomb disposal squad were called when a suspect package was found in the A&E department last Tuesday, 23 November. As a precautionary measure, A&E was closed, patients in some areas of the Hospital were evacuated and 678 outpatients’ appointments and 79 operations had to be cancelled.

Andy Laverick, Good Hope Hospital Executive Lead, said: “Following the incident, members of our staff have been working around the clock to ensure all those patients who didn’t attend hospital due to a cancellation are rebooked in with us within the recommended national time frame. Clinicians have been taking on extra shifts and we have also been providing additional clinics to ensure we clear the backlog of patients caused by the incident within days.

“Although the bomb threat was found to be a hoax, we faced very difficult circumstances at the Hospital. I wish to place on record my thanks to all at Good Hope for continuing to deliver top quality care for our patients at the time, and minimizing the impact for our patients and visitors following the incident.  Staff pulled together to work as one big team across the site and continued to go the extra mile to ensure we were back up to speed in super quick time.”

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