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20190614 130831 crpdA brave 10-year-old cancer survivor started her weekend celebrating beating cancer after ringing the recovery bell after two years of chemotherapy.

Jessica Fornal, from Basildon, rang the bell on Wagtail Ward in Basildon Hospital to signify completion of her treatment, after recovering from a two-year battle with Neuroblastoma.

Jessica travelled to Poland in the summer of 2017 to visit her dad when she began complaining of stomach pain. Her dad took her to the local GP when doctors revealed there was an underlying issue. Ultrasounds over the days revealed that she had a tumour but doctors were still unsure of the definitive diagnosis.

Additional tests over the weeks revealed Jessica had Neuroblastoma.
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Neuroblastoma is a rare type of cancer that mostly affects babies and young children. It affects around 100 children each year in the UK and is most common in children under the age of five.

Jessica’s mother Angelika, asked doctors if she could bring her daughter back to the UK for further treatment.

Jessica was referred to Basildon Hospital and subsequently Great Ormond Street Hospital. She endured eight cycles of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, high doses of chemotherapy and anti-GD2 antibody therapy that treats high risk Neuroblastoma.

Two years on she is in remission and is happy to be back at school with the support of her family and the children’s department at Basildon Hospital.

Jessica’s mother Angelika said, “After such a gruelling process and many tears shed it’s amazing to see her back to her normal self. We are so thankful for the team at Basildon Hospital; we couldn’t have gotten through this without them.”

Talking about her recovery Jessica said, “I am happy I’m better now and I get to see my friends at school. I love school!”

Laura Ryan, Play team leader at Basildon Hospital said, “Understandably, when a child finishes cancer treatment it’s a great relief for the children and their families. We like to mark this special occasion with celebration and gifts.”

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L-R: Bowel cancer screening nurses Same Toleman, Leanne Cross and Carole Valentini

From June this year the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme will be updating the kit that’s sent out to patients to help test for bowel cancer. This will result in us being able to increase the amount of patients we see and improve our ability to diagnosis and treat people early.

Early diagnosis of bowel cancer and treatment can save lives.

The new Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) has been proven to be more accurate and easier for people to complete than the current test. Research has shown that FIT can increase uptake by 10% and even double uptake in groups that have previously not taken part in bowel cancer screening.

How does it work?

Patients will be sent the simple FIT kit in the post. With the new test, only one stool sample is required instead of two samples from three separate stools with the current test. If the result is positive the patient will be called in to be assessed for a colonoscopy (a direct examination of the bowel).

The new FIT kit is a lot more sophisticated than the previous one. For example, if someone has a diet that’s full of iron or, if they are on iron supplements, the former kit could give a false positive. This means you would bring a patient in and take up clinic time doing an assessment when they are fine. The team are always happy to see patients and allay any concerns they have, however the new KIT will mean that we are not bringing in patients unnecessarily and their clinic time can be protected for the patients that need it most.

The FIT kit is expected to result in around 200,000 more people a year being tested, potentially saving hundreds of lives. Karen Steggles, Lead Nurse, said: “Our aim is to ensure that over 60% of our local population - who are 60 or above, take part in bowel cancer screening.

“At the moment there are pockets within our area, in South East and South West Essex where only 30 – 35 % of eligible people are coming forward for screening. It’s vital that we increase this amount and potentially save lives. Now that the initial home test is easier, hopefully this will encourage people to come forward.”

Following a successful pilot involving 40,000 people, the UK National Screening Committee recommended the test should be rolled out nationally. The test will now be offered to all men and women aged 60 to 74, every two years.

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Consultants and staff from the urology, anaesthetic and theatre departments have gone above and beyond for patient James Brooker, who was diagnosed and treated within a 12 hour period.

Mr Brooker came to Basildon Hospital on Wednesday to have a scan. The scan suggested something sinister was going on and he was reviewed in an extra clinic by consultant urologist Mr Ramachandran Ravi, who diagnosed him with a testicular tumour on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Ravi decided that James needed to have the surgery as soon as possible. He spoke to consultant anaesthetist, Dr Chanaka Karunaratne and theatre manager Denise Archer. They both agreed for the surgery to happen the next day without disrupting the regular lists.

Only 12 hours after being told of the diagnosis, Mr Brooker was back at Basildon for his surgery at 6am the following morning before the regular emergency theatre list began.

Mr James Brooker said, “The surgery was successful and the response time was fantastic. It’s great to see a whole team coming together and responding to cases like mine so quickly. I’m now on the road to recovery thanks to this treatment.”

Consultant Urologist Mr Ramachandran Ravi said, “All patients with testicular tumour have to be treated within 31 days. The following Monday was a Bank Holiday with no regular list booked in, so I added him as an extra patient on the night emergency list to be done early in the morning and spoke to the operating team.

“We decided to utilise the emergency theatre and add him before the regular theatre list first thing in the morning. The team agreed to come in at 6am and everything worked like clockwork. We had completed the case before the emergency theatre list was scheduled to start.

“Mr Brooker benefitted hugely by having his treatment done so expeditiously.”

Dr Chanaka Karunaratne, consultant anaesthetist said, “This is something we are not paid to do, but, considering the nature of the disease, our aim is to always try and go the extra mile to help patients.  The entire theatre team, all the doctors, consultants - we all work together to go that little bit extra for our patients, so they can get better and back to normality as quickly as possible.”

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The three NHS trusts which provide hospital care in Southend, Basildon and mid Essex are merging to create one organisation. In a major consultation it was agreed by the public and other organisations that there are real benefits in bringing together specialist services providing 24/7 expert care. Since then, Mid and South Essex Hospitals Group has been putting plans in place to bring about those improvements for patients.

Southend and Thurrock Councils referred the plans to bring services together to the Secretary of State, and he has now asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to give initial advice on these changes.

Chief Executive Clare Panniker said: “We have always maintained that our plans are the right thing for our patients, but recognise that there has been concern expressed by two of our local authorities.  This has been frustrating for our staff who have been unable to deliver the benefits these changes will bring to our communities.

“Due to the time it takes to bring about service changes, we have decided to continue the mobilisation of our planned first phase changes for vascular, urology, radiology and orthopaedic services. We will then be in the position to implement these changes this autumn to improve care and services for our patients.

“The Board will then look at the detailed plan and make a final decision on implementation in September. “

The first phase of changes will see improvements in vascular, urological, orthopaedic and trauma care.

For example, at the moment a Southend patient needing urgent vascular care could be transferred to Harlow, Broomfield or Basildon for treatment. With a consolidated service, and a dedicated vascular ward with 24/7 consultant cover and specialist staff, they will be able to stay in mid and South Essex for expert care at Basildon Hospital.

Similarly, by creating a centre of excellence for spinal surgery on one site, all of the specialist staff and equipment will be brought together on one site. Clare said: “We know that, as well as ensuring quicker access to a spinal surgeon, that will result in better outcomes for patients.”

Clare said: “We know that these changes will simplify care across our hospitals, and enable us to dramatically improve our patients’ experience. Therefore we need to be ready to move forward as soon as possible.”


For more information please contact Niki Eves, Head of Communications at Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust or 07899 982 851.

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We are delighted to announce that our hospital group has been highly commended in the Clinical Support Services category at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Value Awards.

Our group came second place and were the only team highly commended for its Operational Excellence Radiology Programme. The programme is aimed at combining the resource and talent across our departments so as one team, working together we can be more effective and provide better patient care.

The programme is an example of good practice between our three radiology departments. The individual projects were already underway within the individual sites, but it was collaborative working between Basildon & Thurrock, Mid Essex and Southend Hospitals, in partnership with Boston Consulting Group for quantitative and project support. This improved service is now available to 1.2 million people, across five CCGs and our whole Mid & South Essex STP.

This programme saw the NHS and private sector consultancy working together to support mutual learning, continuous improvement and team development.

As a result, we’ve seen an increase in the number of patients who have been scanned in core hours so the need for extra scans has been reduced during peak hours. This has saved over £1 million for the Mid and South Essex University hospital group.

Well done to all involved, as the overall project impact on patients and the Trusts is huge.

Group director Charlotte Williams, said, “This is a fantastic team effort. Our joint working has proved we can be a single, well-led, high performing and innovative organisation which joins up care for the people we serve.”

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Better Care Together describes a new way of working. Behind this is; For Thurrock in Thurrock: an alliance of commissioners and providers of health, social care, hospital trusts and community, voluntary services. They include:

  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
  • NELFT NHS Foundation Trust
  • NHS Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Thurrock Council
  • Thurrock CVS

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Although we are starting this in Tilbury and Chadwell, we want to move quickly to ensure all areas (localities) in Thurrock will have the Benefit of the new teams and support.

To learn more, visit 

Click the link below to download the Better Care Together Thurrock Leaflet

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Contact us

  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
    Nethermayne, Basildon
    Essex  SS16 5NL
    Switchboard: 01268 524900

  • The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre
    Nethermayne, Basildon
    Essex SS16 5NL
    Switchboard: 01268 524900

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