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Chinese delegates meet Heartlands specialists in knowledge sharing visit

Experts from Birmingham Heartlands Hospital hosted a team of leading medics from Xinjiang Medical University in China, in a one-off visit to the Hospital’s Diabetes Centre and MIDRU research team this week.

Based at Heartlands, the leading research active centre is one of the largest in the UK, with the diabetic unit seeing and treating a wide range of patients from across the region.

The day gave delegates the opportunity to learn from medics leading in specialist fields, along with the chance to familiarise themselves with the UK’s approach to healthcare, its medical services and equipment. Research teams, represented by Professor Donald Milligan, Research Director at the Hospital and clinical specialists hosting the event, spent the day presenting and demonstrating how clinical research and diabetic health care is practiced at the Midlands Hospital.

Leading the visit, Dr Sri Bellary, Clinical Director for Diabetes at Heartlands said: “The exchange visit gave us the opportunity to share our experiences with the delegates and to discuss the differences and similarities between specialist care in the two countries and a great opportunity to look into clinical and academic collaborations between both centres.

“The visit covered many different areas from across the country, so it was a great opportunity for us to have discussions on the latest medical innovations here in the UK. By sharing our joint learning, it will help us to identify the UK’s partners with the People’s Republic of China on a wide range of perspectives.”

The 12 members of the Chinese delegation incorporated the visit as part of a month-long UK study tour of leading Universities and Hospital Trust’s, led by Professor Hua Yao, Secretary of the Party Committee and Vice Director of the first teaching Hospital of Xinjiang Medical University.


An innovative project is proving to be music to the ears of patients with disabilities at Heartlands Hospital.

Through the 3DOM project, patients at the Hospital’s Day Unit are creating, composing and performing their own music at the wave of an arm with a piece of equipment called the Soundbeam system.  The system uses sensors and sensory switches to translate body movements into music. 

Following the success of the initial sessions, therapists at the Hospital will continue to work with 3DOM to bring creative music-making to the lives of more patients who can benefit from the experience.

Project participant, Chris Lees, said: “I am one among a privileged few people who have had an opportunity to play a Soundbeam.

“The possibility of doing anything spontaneously is not often given to a disabled person.”

Georgina Farrow, music co-ordinator at Heartlands Hospital, said: “The soundbeam equipment is great for participants as it allows them to use their body in a positive way and creates a new outlet for creativity and self expression.”

An interactive performance with current participants and members of the 3DOM team is taking place on Wednesday 17 July at 6pm at the Recital Hall at Birmingham Conservatoire.  For further details about the event and to get involved in the project, contact: Clare Murphy or Georgina Farrow from the Heartlands arts team on: 0121 424 0113 or email:


Bike Week, the UK’s biggest mass participation cycling event will take place this year between 15-23 June. If you’re looking for a great way to get fit, or just a new hobby this is the ideal time to do it so why not get involved? For those who haven’t considered cycling as an option before there are some great benefits to taking it up…

1) Cycling helps to deal with stress. Physical activity is a great way to help you handle stressful times, anxiety and even depression and an activity like cycling where you are out in the open air and focusing on where you’re going can be a fantastic distraction.

2) Cycling is great for your heart. Taking up a sport like cycling that is considered to be of ‘moderate’ impact can have a positive overall effect on immune health and make your body stronger in fighting illness and disease. It also has a very specific benefit for the heart, improving cardiovascular fitness and reducing the risk of heart disease.

3) Cycling is an effective way to lose weight. Aerobic exercise is probably the best way to burn calories and cycling falls firmly into this category. It will give your metabolism a great big boost that will last long after the ride has finished, as well as increasing the strength of your muscles. As you can decide how fast you cycle you are in complete control of how many calories you burn per ride.

4) It is a great all-over muscle toner. As well as helping with weight loss, cycling also increases muscle tone and leanness all over, working calves, thighs, bottom, shoulders and arms. As a lower impact sport than something like running it also has the advantage of being easier on the joints.

If you’re considering taking up cycling, the most important thing is to make sure that you do it safely.

– Get the right kit i.e. bright or reflective clothing so that you can be seen no matter what the weather or the time of day, and we recommend that you always wear a helmet to protect your head.

– Buy front and back reflectors for your bike and make sure you also have working lights front and back.

– Stay alert to what’s going on around you – ride confidently and decisively and give yourself plenty of time to make turns or stops, and for those around you to understand what you’re about to do.

– Don’t be a bully – give way to pedestrians, don’t be impatient at crossings and lights and don’t take unnecessary chances.

Other than that – have fun! Cycling is a fantastic hobby and an effective sport so don’t hesitate and get started now. For all available cycling routes around West Midlands visit this site.

Featured image by: Flickr/kharied

Good Hope is celebrating after receiving a generous donation to help raise awareness of one of the most common cancers in the region.

Hospital fundraiser Vera Holley presented Good Hope Bowel Cancer Team with a model torso, digital scales and a measure, worth £400, for the team to take on health promotion events, and help people get serious about the condition.

Karen Mallows, lead specialist screening practitioner, said: “We are so thankful for this donation which will really help us encourage people to think about their health, and how bowel cancer can be spotted before it is too late. The items will be used to calculate BMI, educate and lead to discussions about bowel cancer screening, and hopefully save lives. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the region, so it’s important people take the signs and symptoms seriously.”

Bowel Cancer kills over 16,000 people per year in the UK, with 80 per cent of deaths occurring in the over 60s. Every 2 years, free home testing kits are sent to individuals registered  with a GP aged between 60-74, so the warning signs can be detected earlier. Any individuals who record abnormal results are booked to see a specialist nurse in a clinic.  For more information on the condition and to receive a free testing kit, call the team at Good Hope on 0800 707 60 60.

If you are interested in fundraising for your local Hospital, contact the Heart of England Charity on 0121 424 3330, or email Follow the Charity on Facebook here

The Sun was shining as hundreds of Silhillians attended the annual Friends of Solihull Hospital Summer Fete to raise a record £4,500 for the Hospital.

The huge amount was raised thanks to over 1,000 visitors who came to the event which was opened by Mayor of Solihull, Councilor Joe Tildesley and featured live entertainment, tombola, cake and gift stalls.

 The Friends’ Honorary Secretary, Liz Steventon, said: “The whole day was a great success, a big thank you to everyone who came along and made the day possible. This is such an important event in our calendar, as we raise money to help the Hospital continue to provide top class care to the local community. It was so good to raise such a big amount the year of the Friends’ Diamond anniversary.”

 The Friends have raised over £155,000 for equipment for patients in the past 18 months alone. If you would like to find out more about the Friends, or to make a donation, please email Liz Steventon on

Published on 7 Feb 2013

Dr Mark Newbold, chief executive of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and chair of the NHS Confederation’s Hospitals Forum gives his response to the Francis Report.


As we look back on National Walking Month in May and the more than 81,000 miles that were covered to mark it, there’s no doubt that getting out and pounding those pavements/streets/hills/dales is a great way to increase fitness and improve health. Much less high impact than running or jogging but still an enormously effective form of exercise, walking can make a real difference to all our health.

In order to get the benefits of walking, the pace that needs to be set is that of ‘moderate exercise.’ This is at around four miles an hour, which is enough to get your heart rate up – the same pace you might walk at if you were running late for something. If you can get out and walk around five times a week for at least half an hour then you will soon start to see – and feel – the difference. If you’re considering talking up walking then here are five useful tips to help you make the most of it:

1. Shoes are key. No one wants to finish their first attempts at exercise with feet covered in blisters so wear comfortable shoes that won’t rub, pinch or scrape at your feet. Trainers are a great idea and most people will be more comfortable walking for exercise in flats.

2. Be well equipped. Depending on where you’re planning to walk to, and how long for, you might need to take some supplies with you. Food, water and a waterproof if there’s a chance of rain, as well as sunscreen in the heat.

3. Start small. If you want to break up your walking into ten minute chunks, or even just a few minutes at a time to begin with, then that’s fine. Build up to walking for longer periods of time as your fitness improves rather than trying to achieve too much too soon.

4. Integrate walking into your life. Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to fitness so think about those times when you might be able to introduce your new pastime. Walk to work instead of taking the bus, don’t take the car for short journeys, try walking with your children when you take them to school rather than using the car and try joining a walking group if you want to make it into a new hobby.

5. Put some thought into it. Vary your walking routes, pace and locations and try getting family or friends to come along for the more exciting options. Introduce some hills into your walks, experiment with walking to a further away location even if you get public transport back, and set yourself some personal goals to keep motivated.

Those looking for a great reason to get out and walk can do it to fundraise for the Heart of England Trust Charity. If you would like to find out how you can get involved and get advice on fundraising, email or call 0121 424 3838.

From the success of the memory lane project on the elderly care wards at Good Hope and Heartlands Hospital’s earlier this year, the arts department are looking for more volunteers to expand the project out to include elderly patients at Solihull Hospital.

The aim of the project is to motivate elderly patients and for them to participate in simple art activities. These range from simple water colours, threading beads, and compiling scrap books using old pictures of adverts, film posters, actors and musicians.

Sessions last between one to two hours with music being played whilst patients are taking part in art activities. This gives patients a chance to spend some enjoyable time with a friendly face.

Volunteer service adviser, Angela Butts, said: “Bringing patients together in groups with a volunteers for an hour or so always makes for a stimulating, sociable and friendly gathering. This leads to patients communicating with each other, smiling and sharing memories of days gone by. 

“The benefit to patients well being is significant and immeasurable.”

If you would like to become a volunteer and get involved with the project at Solihull Hospital, please contact Sarah McGrory, arts manager, on 0121 424 0113. Alternatively, you can email Sarah at for more information.

Researchers at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust are leading the way in developing the most effective ways for patients on ventilation machines to breathe by themselves.

The research team, lead by Professor Gavin Perkins, consultant in intensive care at Heartlands Hospital, has secured funding of £1.3 million to complete the research in partnership with the University of Warwick and the Intensive Care Foundation.

Many patients in intensive care can require mechanical ventilation, the use of a machine to breathe for them. Whilst this is life-saving, it can cause long-term problems. This research will look at establishing a standard for weaning patients off reliance on the mechanical ventilation as soon as it is safe to do so. The results of this research will then change or inform clinical practice in the local area. 

Professor Gavin Perkins explained: “The Breathe Study is a multi-centre trial designed to work out the most effective method for helping patients to breathe by themselves.  We are delighted to be working with the Intensive Care Foundation and Warwick Clinical Trials Unit on this study.  It will be one of the largest studies ever conducted in this area, the results of which should tell us the best method for assisting patients on the road to recovery”.

The study will involve over 40 centres in the UK, with Heartlands Hospital and Good Hope Hospital involved.

The efforts of Solihull Community Services to make the borough a place where babies are given the best start in life has been given the international seal of approval by UNICEF.

The Solihull community breast feeding service has been accredited with the prestigious Baby Friendly Award for the team’s work with midwives, health visitors, nursery nurses, peer supporters and children centre staff across the borough, to raise awareness of the benefits of breast feeding and to ensure there is help and support available for mums.

As well as support and advice, the Solihull breastfeeding directory is offered to mums who use the service, which gives them information on the many local cafes and shops where mums are welcome to breastfeed their babies and where mums and mums-to-be can offer each other support and also get professional help and advice.

Gaining this accreditation involved UNICEF staff interviewing pregnant women and new mothers to determine whether breastfeeding best practice standards are being met.

Mum of four and a half year old twins, Alanis and Dante, and 13 month old, Eden, Rachel Pooler has taken on the role of peer supporter to offer help and advice to other local mums after benefitting from the service herself.  She said: “It can be such a great experience to breast feed your child.  If I hadn’t had the staff from the breastfeeding service to talk to, I might not have felt I was able to, which is why I want to offer this support myself.  Just having someone to talk to and knowing things are normal can make a real difference.”

Carmen Baskerville, Infant feeding co-ordinator, said: “Breastfeeding is perfect for giving babies a healthy start, as breastfed babies are less likely to suffer with diarrhoea and vomiting, or chest or ear infections. It can also have a positive impact on future health, for example preventing diabetes and obesity for baby and breast and ovarian cancer for mum. 

“It is a great pleasure to accept the award from UNICEF in recognition of our gold standard breastfeeding service.”

Dr Mark Newbold, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive, said: “The Baby Friendly accreditation is rigorously assessed and signifies that the care and support pregnant women, new mothers and their families receive for their baby is of the highest standard. This is a wonderful accolade for the Trust and demonstrates just how consistently hard the Solihull Community Breastfeeding Services team work to ensure we maintain best practice standards.”

Anyone wanting help or advice from the breastfeeding service can call the breastfeeding team on 07970811026.

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