2021: Our year in grants - Barts Charity
Barts Heart Centre MRI

2021: Our year in grants

As 2021 draws to a close, we reflect on the funding we’ve given throughout the year. Thank you for your generous donations which have made this possible.

  • Date: December 21, 2021

Healthcare projects

£1.8m to implement a ‘vein to vein’ blood tracking system

This grant will help install a ‘bedside electronic transfusion check’ system across Barts Health NHS Trust Hospitals. It will be the the largest use of this system in the world. The funding, supported by £363,000 from NHS Charities Together, will help make the blood transfusion pathway digitalThis will reduce the potential for the wrong blood being given to the wrong patient by prompting staff to carry out key steps in the correct order.  

Dr Louise Bowles and Dr Laura Green say: “This project will enable end to end electronic verification of the whole transfusion process in our hospitalsThis will improve transfusion safety for patients and facilitate delivery of excellence in the transfusion service.”
£30k to develop a game to help young people transition to adult services

The transition from paediatric healthcare provider to adult services can be difficult for patients. This grant will allow Barts Health to develop a ‘transition’ board game to ease the process. The game will exist in both a physical and digital format which young people can play with their families outside of the hospital setting.

Neil Fletcher, Nurse Specialist says: “For many people, moving away from a team of healthcare providers that they have known for many years is very challengingThis funding will help develop a game for young patients which will allow them to explore and understand the process of transition from children’s to adult services in a more light-hearted way.”
£34k for a ‘Social Prescriber’ staff member

This funding will provide a ‘Social Prescriber’ at Newham Hospital. One of the aims of social prescribing is to reduce the lifestyle factors that can cause ill health. The pandemic has highlighted existing health inequalities in our community. The social prescribing initiative hopes to tackle some of the causes of these inequalitiesSocial prescribers will promote healthy behaviours and signpost patients towards resources to improve their health This might include affordable fitness classes, healthy eating resources, interpreting services or after-school clubs.

Andrew Kelso at Newham Hospital says: “Barts Charity is improving patient health in the widest senseWe will place a social prescriber in the Urgent Care Centre to signpost patients to resources available to them“Upstreaming” can improve patient outcomes and prevent further health problems by managing the non-medical causes as well as the medical ones.”
£366k to improve access for patients with pacemakers who need MRI scans

Almost half a million people in the UK require an implanted device like a pacemaker to support their heartsPreviously, it was not possible for patients with cardiac devices to have an MRI scan. This was due to interaction of the strong magnets with the electronic device. Now, with thorough planning and collaboration, these patients are able to have MRI scans.

This funding will allow the project team to develop a ‘pacemaker passport’. The passport will integrate with an online cardiac device MRI referral platform previously built by the teamThis will empower clinicians across the trust to offer cardiac device MRIs to all patients who need them.
Dr Anish Bhuva from Health Data Research UK says: “Implanted pacemakers and defibrillators are so effective that people survive their heart disease but then face other problems from having fragmented information about their deviceThis leads to difficult access to MRI for cancer and stroke, unnecessary chest x-rays, and delays to surgery or emergency careThanks to Barts Charity, we will now develop an electronic “pacemaker passport” containing personalised information that patients themselves own and can share with health professionals, such as at the time of MRIThis will help both doctors and patients benefit from the instantaneous and seamless flow of data, securely.”

Barts Heart Centre MRI

£36k for a Health and Wellbeing Support role

This grant has provided a ‘Wellbeing Prescriber’ in four of the Barts Health NHS Trust hospitals. They will offer psychological and physical wellbeing support for staff in patient-facing roles. This could involve directing colleagues towards wellbeing services, or working with them to help resolve problems quicklyThey are also responsible for engaging staff in the co-design and delivery of Barts Health’s wellbeing strategy.

Geraldine Cunningham, Trust Lead for wellbeing says: “We came up with the idea of Wellbeing Prescribers, as we had a vast wellbeing offerHowever, the challenge was translating the offer to busy colleagues, making sure our colleagues could access what was available and seek feedbackThe Wellbeing Prescribers have had a really positive impact on ensuring our wellbeing offer was utilised and fit for purpose.”

Research projects

£2.6m to create the Barts Centre for Squamous Cancer

Squamous cell cancers are very common and affect many different organs such as the skin, lungs and mouth. Oral cancers are a particular problem in South Asian patients in East London. Researchers at Queen Mary University of London will be brought together in a collaborative research CentreThey will study patients with squamous cell cancers to improve diagnostic tests and treatments.

Paul Coulthard from Queen Mary University of London says: “Oral cancer has been underfunded for any yearsWe hope that by bringing our expertise together we will be able to develop a better understanding of mouth cancerAwareness of risk factors and symptoms is still very low, and we hope our work will improve detection, diagnosis, and access to treatment.
We know that the risk of being diagnosed with oral cancer is strongly associated with social deprivation. This is a particular health challenge in London. This centre will enable us to develop a much better understanding of who is at risk and why. With this information, we hope to improve treatment and the quality of life for all those affected, both in the UK and wider afield.”
£266k to research lymphoma of the central nervous system

Lymphoma affecting the brain is a devastating form of blood cancer, particularly in patients where the disease has come back after treatmentSadly, these patients survive only three months on average so there is an urgent need to identify new treatments for this disease. The aim of this project is to develop the team’s earlier research in this area. They will also thoroughly test drugs which they believe can block the pathway which allows this form of cancer to grow.

Dr John Riches from Queen Mary University of London says: “We were delighted to receive funding from Barts Charity to support our projectLymphoma affecting the brain can be a devastating form of blood cancer. However, this grant will allow us to study the metabolism of this cancer with the aim of understanding how existing drugs work and developing new therapies. We then aim to test these medicines in clinical trials to help cure more patients of brain lymphoma.”
£157k for a PhD student to study the genetic risk of coronary artery disease

Heart disease runs in families and studies have found 200 common genetic variants that predispose people to the disease. This funding will allow a PhD student to perform cutting-edge experiments. They will examine the effect of all these variants on genes and particularly on blood vessel formationThe data generated from the project will be used to further pursue this research into blood vessel genetics. The eventual goal is to aid the development of new treatments for heart disease.

Professor Panagiotis Deloukas from Queen Mary University of London’s says: “Investigating the genetics of heart disease in over one million individuals has been hugely productiveThe challenge is to translate these findings into molecular mechanisms that cause the diseaseWith Barts Charity’s generous support we are now able to undertake this study focusing on the genetic role of vascular processes in heart disease that can lead to novel drug targets.”
£266k to trial Art Therapy to help prevent burnout in NHS workers

NHS clinicians are frequently exposed to work-related stress putting them at risk of burnout. The pandemic has increased the pressure our NHS is under even further. A study carried out after the pandemic showed 51% of European intensive care staff reporting severe burnout.

This funding will allow art therapist Megan Tjasink to take time out of her clinical duties to do researchShe will scientifically test the use of art therapy which has been shown to combat the symptoms of burnoutResearchers will work with 100 Barts Health NHS clinicians in high-risk specialties such as Oncology or Intensive Care. They will use a trial to test the impact of 6 weeks of structured group art therapy sessions. The results of the project will feed directly into clinical practice at Barts Health to support further staff support initiatives.
Megan says: “There is now clear recognition of the need to find innovative ways of addressing the mental health impact of work-related stressWith support from Barts Charity we have piloted the effective use of art therapy to address symptoms of burnout in Barts cancer doctorsThrough this and other support, Barts Health has developed an international reputation for innovative art therapy.
This grant will allow us to take a much needed and significant step forward to undertake an art therapy randomised control trialIt will contribute significantly to the evidence base for the use of art therapy and creative body-mind psychological approaches to support clinician mental health.”

Our Covid-19 response

Since March 2020, we’ve awarded £4.5m for the Barts Health NHS hospitals in response to Covid-19. This has provided funding to support NHS staff wellbeing, improve patient experience and for research to help us better understand the virus.

In December 2021 we announced funding of another £15,000 for staff wellbeing to help staff cope with the Omicron variant on top of winter pressures. Read more here.

Thank you again to all our supporters who’ve made this possible.

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