The Trust serves one of the most diverse communities in the country. We provide services for many races and cultures, and go to great lengths to engage with communities from all backgrounds.
Most importantly, we are committed to delivering safe, effective care to our patients in an environment that recognises and promotes the principles of equality, diversity, and non-discrimination. This means that there must be a mutual respect and tolerance for each other’s beliefs and backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, or age.
We are enthusiastic about engaging with our community. Below you can see some of the events we have held to raise awareness around health issues that affect our population, but also some joint community initiatives that are helping to enhance patient care.
A giant inflatable bowel which takes you on a journey inside the organ has been touring Sandwell and West Birmingham to raise awareness about a vital test which can save lives.
The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) team from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust have taken the inflatable to various events, and it has even stopped shoppers in their tracks on West Bromwich High Street.
Patient Janet Hopkins, 69, of Great Barr, backed calls for people to use the home kit that is sent out every three years to people between the age of 60 and 74.
The grandmum-of-four, said using the kit saved her life after she was diagnosed with cancer. “I was sent the kit previously and didn’t use it, then three years later another one came through the post.
“At the time I was experiencing blood in my stools. I thought it was piles and put off using the kit, but my husband encouraged me to do it.
“In the end I did the test and sent it back to the hospital. Two days later I had a call to say I needed further testing, and it was discovered I had cancer. But they treated it in time and I am now cancer free.
“Using the kit definitely saved my life and I would encourage people to who are sent the test to do it. I am now able to enjoy more time with my grandchildren and I may not have been here in a few months’ time had the cancer not been caught in time.”
Maggie Preston, BSCP lead at the Trust, said: “We have the inflatable bowel to encourage more people to use the home test that is sent to them.
“We want to make people aware and it has certainly gathered quite a lot of attention wherever we have taken it which is positive.”
Cardiology nurses from City Hospital saw more than 80 shoppers at a supermarket who they encouraged to ‘know your pulse’ as part of World
Heart Rhythm Week.
Stephanie Coates, Matron for Cardiology, and Laura Taylor, Professional Development Sister, were raising awareness around heart health at Tesco Springhill, in Birmingham.
They demonstrated to shoppers how they can take their own pulse. Laura Taylor, Professional Development Nurse, said: “World Heart Rhythm Week is focused on fainting or what is otherwise known as syncope – it’s about saving lives. There is no such thing as a simple faint.
“We were showing customers how to carry out taking their pulse themselves. Previously when I have done this, I found six shoppers who had undetected underlying heart conditions, so we are very keen to reach out to the community to help them be more heart aware before it’s too late.”
The event was part of the Arrhythmia Alliance World Heart Rhythm Week.
Arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythm disorders) affect over two million people in the UK but by being heart rhythm aware, arrhythmias can be identified early.
Alcohol abuse in Sandwell and Birmingham costs the NHS a staggering £72.1 million a year.
And around 300 patients are being seen every month at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWBH) suffering from some form of alcohol abuse.
Arlene Copland, Lead Alcohol Specialist Nurse from SWBH, said during Alcohol Awareness Week: “We see a startling number of patients coming into our emergency departments who need help to control their alcohol intake.
“But what they don’t realise is drinking too much can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as liver disease, cancer, fertility issue, stomach ulcers, raised blood pressure, stroke and dementia.
“It’s important that everyone knows what their limits are. National guidelines recommend that both males and females do not drink more than 14 units per week.
“We work closely with local charities Swanswell and Change Grow and Live (CGL) to reduce admission to hospital due to alcohol abuse and provide support in outpatient settings. We are helping patients to reduce their intake or stop drinking alcohol completely.”
The theme for this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week centred around encouraging people to think about how drinking can also affect their family. SWBH worked with Swanswell and CGL to organise a number of activities at Sandwell and City Hospitals to raise awareness among patients, visitors and staff.
Arlene added: “We organised drinks tasting where people can try non-alcoholic cider and wine. There was also a short quiz and visitors were able to try on special beer goggles which give the same visual effect as when a person is drunk.
“Through these activities we wanted people to realise that having control of how much you drink can make a large impact on your life and your loved ones’.”
Annie Steele, Swanswell Director, said: “Alcohol misuse can affect anyone and people may not even realise that they’re drinking to potentially harmful levels. Alcohol Awareness Week is a great opportunity to stop and think about your own alcohol use and how it can affect your family. If you’ve got any questions, speak to organisations like Swanswell who can help.”
A hospital hotline has been introduced at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust to respond to concerns inpatients or their loved ones may have about care.
New Purple Points have been installed outside ward areas at Sandwell, City and Rowley Regis Hospitals, which have phones that link directly to a team of advisors. The aim is to address concerns quickly, before the patient is discharged. The phones can also be used to compliment staff for the care they’ve given.
The move by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust comes after a survey was conducted by Healthwatch Sandwell, a health watchdog, which found patients wanted concerns resolved in a more timely approach.
The phone line will be manned between 9am and 9pm every day. There are numbers for non-English speakers to call.
Kam Dhami, Director of Governance, who is leading the project, said: “We have access to a range of patient feedback and we identified a theme through some of our complaints, and from a report carried out by Healthwatch Sandwell, that a more timely approach to issues of concern would be helpful.
“Patients will be able to use the Purple Point phone line to tell us about any concerns with their care whilst an inpatient. We will aim to get the concern resolved quickly. They can also use the phone line to report good experiences of care so that we can pass positive feedback onto the teams. The service will also be available in other commonly spoken languages – patients just need to follow the instructions and dial the number corresponding to the language they require.
“The service is not intended to replace the many ways we already have to act on patient feedback. It is an additional option for patients or relatives who want to give a compliment or need to have an issue dealt with promptly.”
Patient Peter Broome, 65, of West Bromwich, said: “I think this initiative is really good for inpatients and their families. It’s great that the hospital is doing something like this to improve the patient experience.”
The advisors will speak to the caller about their concern and then make sure that the relevant ward staff are informed so that they can resolve issues quickly. The team, along with the ward staff will also check with the patient that they are happy with the outcome.
The phones were launched across Sandwell, Rowley and City Hospitals at the end of February.
John Clothier, Chair of Healthwatch Sandwell, said: “We fully support this new initiative which, in response to our report published in 2016, shows that the Trust listens. This will help patients, relatives and carers to have their concerns about treatment and care addressed quickly and effectively. We wish Purple Point every success.”
Clinicians from the Trust have been working with Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (SWB CCG) in screening more than 200 patients for blood borne viruses and latent tuberculosis.
At a recent event for ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) students, held at Sandwell College, in West Bromwich, 228 students were tested.
It’s been hailed a success by Natasha Ratnaraja, Consultant in Infection, and SWB CCG.
Natasha said: “In one day of screening we have tested a total of 228 students for blood borne viruses (BBV), including 194 for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Of those tested for LTBI, 23 were positive. For those tested for BBV, there was a positivity rate of 10.96 per cent for hepatitis C.
“We feel that this has been a very successful screening programme and have been invited back to test more students. The success of this venture is down to the hard work and cooperation of all involved; the CCG, Sandwell Local Authority, colleagues from our microbiology and phlebotomy departments, Sandwell College, NHSE and Birmingham City Council.”
Patients who have the test must be aged between 16 and 35 and must have arrived in the UK from a number of countries in Asia and Africa, but also Vietnam and Peru, within the last five years. These countries are known to have a high incidence of TB. Tests done at the screening event go back to our laboratory and those with a positive TB result are sent to the TB nurses, who then contact the patient offering them an X-Ray and treatment. Positive blood borne virus results will be sent to the GP, asking them to refer to Dr Singhal or the QE in the case of hepatitis B and C, and Dr Sivaram’s team at Dartmouth Clinic in the case of HIV. Patients can then receive the appropriate follow up and care. Negative results are passed back to the patient’s GP. It’s the fourth time the team has been out into the community to carry out a screening session. In September, they went along to the Bangladeshi Islamic Centre, in Smethwick, previously they have visited the Church of the Nazreen in Handsworth and the Nishkam Centre on Soho Road.