Wed, 6 July 2022

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Health Disparities White Paper must level up heart health Partner content
By British Heart Foundation
Press releases

NHS Parliamentary Awards: An opportunity for MPs to recognise the outstanding work of health and care teams

NHS Parliamentary Awards: An opportunity for MPs to recognise the outstanding work of health and care teams

Through the NHS Parliamentary Awards we have worked closely with our local MPs and had the opportunity to meet them and showcase our hospitals work, writes Kate Tantam. | Paul Heartfield.

Kate Tantam

Kate Tantam | NHS Parliamentary Awards

6 min read

Last year's winner of the Care and Compassion category, Kate Tantam, says the Parliamentary Awards allowed her team to push for the creation of rehabilitation, respiratory and discharge teams for every Covid-positive patient that came through the hospital.

Winning the Care and Compassion category in last year’s Parliamentary awards has been one of the best things that has ever happened to our team.

It is not only welcome recognition for the patient care our staff deliver, but helped us also to prove the impact of our work locally and nationally.

Recently it allowed us to push for the creation of rehabilitation, respiratory and discharge teams for every Covid-positive patient that came through our hospital. 

Covid was a real challenge but we are pleased to say that every patient with coronavirus who recovered and left the Intensive care unit walked out of the hospital. 

The NHS Parliamentary Awards sponsored by Fujifilm are a chance for all MPs in England to recognise the outstanding work of health and care teams across the country.

It is a time for MPs to work with teams like ours and shine a spotlight on what we do.

Through this award we have worked closely with our local MPs and had the opportunity to meet them and showcase our hospitals work.

I have been dedicated to pushing rehabilitation for intensive care survivors since 2014.

I read a story from a patient feedback questionnaire, which moved me to tears. I share it with you here, in her own words, so you can see why. 

“When I came home, I was barely able to walk. Physically I had a long rehabilitation period ahead of me (with no support given), but I was also deeply traumatised by what had happened to me in ICU.  I had flashbacks and couldn’t make sense of what happened (I had very confused memories from ICU, some of which were from delirium and were unreal, but I didn’t know which were true and which were false). I was also pregnant before my critical illness, so I was profoundly sad at the loss of that pregnancy. It felt like my life had been torn apart. Three months after my illness, my husband had a break down over what he had gone through while I was ill”. 

This is not an uncommon story, it describes the aftermath of critical illness, and the collective term is Post-Intensive Care Syndrome.  

Post Intensive Care Syndrome is a triad; Mental health problems like PTSD, Anxiety and depression, physical impairment, profound muscle wasting and respiratory issues and problems with memory and inattention. 

The psychological aspects are also seen in the families and friends of our patients. The experience of seeing someone you love in pain or on the brink is profound and deeply challenging. 

It was after reading this story that I knew that I had to build a service and a team in our department that could support ICU survivors their loved ones and that I would dedicate my career to rehabilitation.

To give patients back their lives is not enough, we need to facilitate their future. 

So what do we do? 

We are a team that starts rehabilitation early. Muscle wasting is the most common complication of critical illness, it occurs in 25-50% of patients, the daily loss of muscle mass averages 2-3% over the first 10 days. 

It is not uncommon for patients to lose 10kg of lean muscle mass in intensive care.  

We limit this for our patients by getting them moving. We use beds that turn into chairs, beds that get patients into standing positions, we encourage functional movement, usually by getting patients to throw balls at staff or for our Animal Assisted Team. A patient was recently cycling 15km a week in his final weeks in hospital which we discovered was significantly more than half the consultant team! 

We are one of only a handful of Intensive Care Units in the UK to have our own animal-assisted intervention team in an intensive care therapy dog and his owner Moira Ford.

I had no idea the impact a labradoodle would have in a department or a Ward. There’s such a difference in the mood of the patients and staff when Hovis is here – the whole place is lightened –he encourages people to engage in physiotherapy, be it walking along the corridors with them, getting patients to throw a ball or give him a treat.

We understand the challenge of staying in the hospital, so we built an intensive care rehabilitation space called the Secret Garden. A private space for patients and their families to sit in the sun, play with their pets, achieve their goals (drinking beer is a favourite), eat ice cream or play with children or grandchildren. The little things are often the big things for patients and loved ones. 

Critical illness can be a lifetime diagnosis with a significant socio-economic and financial burden. Our team costs just £205k per year, and in three years we have managed to see a significant change in our patient’s abilities once they leave us.

Rehabilitation increases quality of life, reduces the length of stay in hospital and supports patients and loved ones to get back to work. Previously our patients would leave the hospital only moving in bed with assistance, now they leave standing. Some leave walking.  

Amazing things were happening in our department, and across the hospital, we were thrilled. We wanted to capture, share and celebrate the excellence. So we launched the #Rehablegend campaign.

Since our first tweet in August of 2018, we have had over 41 million impressions on twitter, 17 thousand tweets, and we have given out 7000 badges. 

The campaign has gone to the United States, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Nepal and to 86 centres in the UK.  Follow us online for the most inspiring patient stories and celebrations of everyday excellence in rehabilitation. 

The parliamentary awards scheme offers MPs the opportunity to be a Rehablegend too. By nominating your local teams, you can improve patient care for your constituents. You can shine a light on excellence and encourage and support those teams to challenge culture and improve services.

MPs can work with their local NHS to find these outstanding individuals and organisations and publicly announce which they are officially nominating for one, some or all the ten categories of the national awards. 

Nominations close on September 1, 2020, and our regional champions will be announced on November 23. 

I wish I could find the lady whose story started off my journey into rehabilitation, to thank her for bravery in sharing it. This article and the #Rehablegend campaign are dedicated to her and to all of the #Rehablegend staff, patients and their loved ones.

They have helped shape and continue to help push rehabilitation services in the UK.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.