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Making waves in innovative care – Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust in the final four for national accolade

Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust have been named finalists in this year’s HSJ Patient Safety Awards for making outstanding differences to patients with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) – a condition affecting a person’s mobility and breathing.

Solent’s Hydrotherapy Service and Portsmouth’s Critical Care Team worked closely to create an aquatic therapy risk assessment tool so that GBS patients receiving critical care could be placed into the hydrotherapy pool, a gravity-controlled environment, to help them gain muscle movement/control earlier than otherwise possible.

Claire Jeffries, Physiotherapy Clinical Specialist in Hydrotherapy and Rheumatology for Solent NHS Trust, submitted the project in the Clinical Governance & Risk Management category. Claire said: “We were really excited to be at the forefront of this type of treatment for Guillain-Barre patients. We are happy to be doing this collaborative piece of work, being innovative within the risk of mitigation for these patients.

“Thank you to our managers in both Trusts for supporting us to undertake this work and having faith in us. Ultimately, we want to say thank you to our two amazing patients, who put their faith in us and came on this journey with us. Also […] for enabling us to share this work nationally so other patients not just locally, but across the country, can hopefully benefit from this treatment if others feel inspired by our work”

Susie Calvert, Physiotherapy Team Lead in Critical Care at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “It’s fantastic to hear that our work has been shortlisted for this award. With very little precedence outlining the use of this treatment with this patient group, the process of planning and risk assessing between not only two departments, but two separate trusts, was not a simple one. However, the impact and value that these sessions had was huge. We are really proud of what was achieved and most importantly, want to share our experience in the hope that it may encourage others and see more patients being offered this opportunity.”

Denmead resident, Paul Lacey, was one such GBS patient whose mobility has been transformed thanks to the pioneering work. He explained: “I pretty much ended up totally paralysed. All I could do was to communicate by nodding my head. I had a tracheotomy, so I was on a respirator. It was amazing… as soon as I got in the pool, I could move my legs, I could move my arms so it was quite exciting.

“As soon as they (the teams) arrived, they worked together – it was really impressive.”

Paul’s recovery is remarkable, with him now at home and walking independently.

The full list of nominees for the 2020 HSJ Patient Safety Awards can be found on

Winners will be selected ahead of the ceremony, which will take place virtually as part of the Patient Safety Virtual Congress and Awards in November 2020.

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