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The Biggest Thank You Ever

On Sunday 5 July 2020, it will be 72 years since the NHS and social care system was established.

2020 has been the most challenging year in NHS history. This year, the birthday is an opportunity to recognise, reflect and remember. To recognise the skills, commitment, achievements, compassion and diversity of all our 1.9 million people, across more than 350 different professions.

Over the last few months staff have worked around the clock to tackle coronavirus – caring for the 100,000 patients with COVID-19 who needed specialist hospital treatment and treating countless others besides, redesigning services and creating backup Nightingale hospitals.

None of this would have been possible without the help and support of countless individuals and organisations around the country.

Everyone across the NHS is hugely grateful to the thousands of former doctors, nurses and other health service staff who came out of retirement to battle coronavirus, the fellow key workers – from bus drivers and refuse collectors to social care staff and teachers – who kept the country running  and, of course, all those who stopped the spread of the virus by following the expert advice and staying home to save lives.

Everyone has had a part to play and, in the most difficult days, frontline workers were sustained by the support of the public.

On Sunday 5 July we invite everyone to come together at 5pm to come together and applaud the commitment, courage and sacrifice shown by so many. #ThankYouTogether.

Saturday 4 July, the day before the birthday, will be a moment of remembrance and reflection for all the lives of those we have lost during the pandemic. This chance for the nation to come together and pay our respects is being led by the Together Coalition.

Lockdown has been a tremendously challenging time for everyone, but at the same time we have seen countless examples of people doing their best and achieving amazing things – fundraising, volunteering, sending their messages of support and thanks to our hospital heroes.

We are asking people to carry on supporting the RUH by making a donation online and/or by leaving a gift in your Will. Thank you for your support.

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Take the challenge and make £20 grow for the RUH

Businesses in Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire are being invited to take part in the Make it Grow Corporate Challenge to help raise funds for the Royal United Hospitals (RUH) Bath.

Organised by The Forever Friends Appeal, this challenge will run from 1 October 2020 to 31 January 2021 and companies are invited to sign up now.

Patsy Gould, Corporate Officer, The Forever Friends Appeal said: “We were lucky to work with 17 businesses last year (pictured) and it proved to be a great way for colleagues to work together, have fun whilst raising funds to support our local hospital and we look forward to welcoming more businesses this year.

“The concept is simple – we will give every company a starter fund of £20 and the aim is to make that amount grow more than any other company who is taking part. We’ve also introduced a new virtual element to the challenge as many people continue to work from home, so colleagues can work together both in and out of the office.”

Participating businesses will also have the option to donate their funds to a specific area in the hospital if their colleagues have a special connection with a ward or department.

Competing in the challenge last year, Sarah Williams, Sales and Marketing Executive at Trowbridge Ford said:

“We have had lots of fun taking part in the challenge, coming up with ideas and running a variety of events that brought the community together. It was very rewarding and knowing the money we have raised has gone to help those that need it most has given us a warm fuzzy feeling inside.”

Businesses who would like to take part in the challenge will need to sign up on the charity’s website by 1 October. All participants will receive a free fundraising pack full of resources, tips and ideas on how they can make their £20 grow.

To sign up and for more information about the Make it Grow Corporate Challenge please click here

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Cheers! Helping our NHS heroes stay hydrated

Dedicated hydration stations are helping frontline staff at the RUH stay refreshed thanks to funds raised in response to COVID-19.

The stations which look like small fridges have been installed across the hospital, there is now one on every ward. Rhyannon Boyd, Head of Fundraising said:

“It might seem simple but we all know it’s important to stay hydrated. Our staff are constantly reminding our patients to drink fluids but the message is also important for them too.

“It has been difficult for our staff to have easy access to a cold drink on our wards and during the summer it gets very warm in the hospital. They also have the added pressure of wearing personal protection equipment (PPE) throughout their shifts so it’s important that our clinical colleagues stay hydrated.

“Thanks to the generosity of our donors and an NHS charities together grant the new hydration stations are making a big difference to staff. We’ve also been able to provide thousands of reusable water bottles for our colleagues. They can label the bottles with their name and keep a cold drink in the hydration station throughout their shift.”

According to the NHS website it states that it’s important to drink enough fluids. In climates such as the UK’s, we should drink about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to stop us getting dehydrated.

Since the roll out of the hydration stations, there has been an overwhelming response from staff. Victoria Marlow, Senior Sister on Philip Yeoman ward said:

“It’s great to have a dedicated drinks station. We really appreciate the generosity that has enabled us to have this on our ward and we all love the water bottles too. It will definitely make it easier for us all to keep hydrated, a big thank you to everyone who donated.”


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Recipe book launched to raise funds for our Hospital Heroes Appeal

A book of recipes to raise funds for our Help Your Hospital Heroes Appeal has been launched in Bath.

The Rainbow Recipe book, which contains recipes from residents and well-known Bath public figures, has been created by Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurst MBE, a former NHS worker of 25 years and Vice President of the The Forever Friends Appeal Charity.

Loraine’s idea for the book was inspired by seeing lots of her friends sharing bakes and home cooked meals during the lockdown on social media. She says “I noticed lots of my friends sharing photos and recipes on social media and seeing the pictures gave me the idea to collate the book and help raise money for the charity and hospital, which is very close to my heart.

“I approached some of my friends and local contacts and in the space of three weeks we have managed to pull this together. I am delighted to say that local people and businesses have sponsored the print costs of the book which means all the money from the sale of the books will go directly to the charity.

“I am also extremely grateful to Mark Norbury who designed the recipe book for free. Both his wife and son work in the theatres at the hospital, so this has been a meaningful project for him to be involved in as well. There are so many people who have generously, helped and supported the book project, I am truly thankful and just delighted that we are able to help give back to the front line workers in our City who have worked tirelessly to keep us all safe.”

Contributors to the Rainbow Recipe Book include chefs from local Bath restaurants and hotels, writer Bel Mooney, Amy Williams MBE, actor Simon Shepherd, The Mayor of Bath and BBC Points West reporters Ali Vowles and Imogen Sellers.

The Rainbow Recipe Book is £10 and can be purchased directly from Loraine via the Facebook page @rainbowrecipebook or by email loraine@morganbrinkhurstconsultancy.co.uk.

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RUH’s army of volunteers works through the coronavirus pandemic

Across the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, an invaluable band of volunteers is helping to keep the hospital running throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Independent charity The League of Friends of the RUH organises the majority of the volunteers at the Trust, filling a range of important roles across the hospital, from supporting patients and staff in departments such as A&E, to helping run the charity’s shop in the Atrium, its coffee shop and even litter picking around the hospital grounds.

Some of these volunteers have been able to continue to give their time to the RUH during the coronavirus pandemic, supported by nearly 100 new volunteers who have come forward to help support the hospital at this time.

One such volunteer is Gill Grady, who said she had no hesitation in offering to help the Friends of the RUH.

“When I saw how hard all the NHS staff are working right now, I thought it was the least I could do and would give something back,” she said. “I didn’t think twice about offering to help. I’m aware of the potential risks but I’m retired and live on my own, so I don’t feel as though I’m putting anyone else at risk.”

Gill is one of a number of volunteer housekeepers based in the Doctors’ Mess, a relaxing space away from the hustle and bustle of the busy hospital, where doctors can enjoy some much needed downtime and catch up with colleagues.

“I help to make sure the staff have refreshments like tea and coffee, that the chairs are spaced out for social distancing, that the sleeping area is tidy, and I’ll even do a bit of cleaning – just whatever I can do to help really,” she said.

“We appreciate them and they appreciate us. I’ll sometimes have a chat with one of the doctors at the end of their shift, and ask them how their day has been and how they are feeling. It’s nice to have that interaction and to be a listening ear in those situations.

“I really enjoy volunteering. It’s a win-win for me – I get to help out the doctors at the RUH at what is such a challenging time and feel that I’m giving something back at the same time.”

The RUH is also supported by volunteers from a range of other organisations, including Bath Hospital Radio, Alzheimer’s Society, Dorothy House, Pets as Therapy and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The Forever Friends Appeal has also helped support the recruitment of new volunteers during the pandemic. Volunteer Keith Getheridge has been involved with fundraising for The Forever Friends Appeal for many years, after his late wife Wendy was diagnosed with cancer.

Keith said: “When I saw the appeal for volunteers I was really eager to get involved. Knowing that COVID-19 was on the way, I thought that there might be a big gap in the number of volunteers at the RUH, so wanted to do what I could to help.

“I got in touch with the hospital straight away. I know my wife would have been at the front of the queue and I felt the same way. I really didn’t mind what I did, I just wanted to help. I took on a part-time housekeeping role in the Surgical Short Stay ward and work from 7.30am to 1.30pm, three days a week.”

Volunteer housekeepers support the ward-based cleaners by completing tasks within the kitchen around meals times, dusting the ward corridors and helping keep ward equipment clean.

“It’s not glamorous work, but there’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from helping to keep the ward clean, tidy and safe for patients,” said Keith. “The time goes quickly and there’s always something that needs to be cleaned or disinfected. It’s good to know that I’m helping and providing a very important role for the hospital.”

League of Friends of the RUH Volunteer Services Manager Samantha Nolan said: “This week is national Volunteers’ Week, when we say a very special thank you to all our volunteers for the work they do. Our volunteers do a fantastic job every day of the year helping patients and supporting the RUH.

“Volunteers’ Week is also an important time for us to think about the many volunteers who have had to temporarily stand down because of COVID-19 and look forward to the day we can welcome them back.”

The League of Friends is currently looking for volunteers to fill a range of vacancies at the hospital, such as in housekeeping and Estates-based roles. If you would like to volunteer, or find out more about the opportunities available, contact the Friends of the RUH office on 01225 824046 or visit www.friendsofhteruh.org.uk

You can watch a video about some of our volunteers here

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George goes to great heights to fundraise

At almost 84 years of age, George Harding is taking on a very tall challenge – every day for two weeks, he’s climbing a 60ft tree to raise money for his two favourite charities – The Forever Friends Appeal and Macmillan Cancer Support.

George lives in Bath and is a long standing volunteer for the hospital. He started climbing the tree in his back garden on Monday 18 May. It takes him around 45 minutes to reach the top and come back down. He came up with the idea because of the social distancing measures that are in place.

George said: “As it’s not possible for me to pursue my usual physical challenges of distance running, cycling or trekking for charity, I want to achieve something completely different. I am more than willing to go to great heights in my fundraising endeavors and I appeal to you all to help me by sponsoring my efforts with a donation.

“I am very fond of the tree that I’m climbing as it originally was my family’s Christmas tree for the festive period of 1969. The tree was only around three feet high when I planted it with the enthusiastic help of my three young sons.

“We all know and value the NHS and the incredible work they do in caring for our loved ones and friends and as cancer has affected the lives of many people including members of my family, the care and advice received from Macmillan Cancer Support has been invaluable and lifesaving.

“Therefore, in tribute and recognition to both charities I want to raise as much money as possible to help them continue to make the wonderful difference to the wellbeing of us all.”

So far George has raised over £400 each for The Forever Friends Appeal and Macmillan Cancer Support including donations on his Just Giving pages which you can find by searching ‘George’s Christmas Tree Climb Up’. He said: “I would be so grateful if you would kindly help me to raise funds for these two most worthy and incredible organisations by sponsoring me to do this challenge.”

Laura Cherry, Events and Community Coordinator said: “George is a dedicated volunteer and a passionate fundraiser for the Royal United Hospitals Bath. We are hugely thankful to George for taking his fundraising to the next level to support our staff, patients and their families at the hospital and we wish him the very best of luck with his challenge.”

The money raised by George for The Forever Friends Appeal will go towards the Oncology Services that are provided by a dedicated team of staff at the RUH. The funds raised will make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients cared for at the hospital, as well as the friends and family who visit them.

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Somerset Freemasons provides computer tablets for RUH patients

Ten computer tablets have been donated from the Somerset Freemasons for patients being cared for in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Royal United Hospitals Bath Foundation Trust.

David Medlock, Provincial Grand Master of the Somerset Freemasons said: “We are delighted to provide these tablets and we hope that by providing these tablets they will give some comfort to patients as they will be able to use video messaging and connect with their loved ones during their time in hospital.”

Margi Jenkins, RUH Critical Care Matron said: “With the current visiting restrictions in place, it makes it hard for patients and their relatives to communicate, so by having these tablets for them to use, it will go some way to ease that difficulty. Furthermore, we’ll use the tablets to help those who are unable to speak to communicate with our staff, as well as a source of entertainment for patients who start the process of coming off ventilation.”

As well as showing their support for the RUH, the Somerset Freemasons have also been helping provide free meals to people in Bath and North East Somerset, financial support to food banks and some Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), totalling over £45,000 of gifts in kind.

David said: “We have also been able to fund a further 10 tablets for the hospitals in Weston Super Mare, Taunton and Yeovil and a further five tablets have also been given to The Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) and to a Masonic Care home in Exeter.

“As an organisation we are in the process of delivering over 1,000 computer tablets to hospitals throughout England and Wales. Like many other people during this challenging time, we all wanted to help as best we can.”

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Special memory boxes created for patients at RUH Bath

Creating special memories and keepsakes for patients nearing end of life and their families has been made possible thanks to donations made by the public to our Hospital Heroes Appeal.

Memory boxes have been created and will be delivered to every ward, including the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Emergency Department during this year’s national Dying Matters Awareness Week, 11-18 May.

Helen Meehan, (pictured above) Lead Nurse Palliative Care and End of Life Care said: “The coronavirus pandemic does present new challenges, but caring with compassion, kindness and respect are absolutely central to all that we do.

“Every patient matters and every family matters here at RUH Bath and we are so pleased to have the memory boxes. They will enable our staff to support patients nearing end of life and their families and we hope that the keepsakes and memories created will bring compassion, some connection and comfort.”

With the theme for this year’s Dying Matters week being ‘Dying to be Heard’, people are being encouraged to talk to their families, partners and friends and listen to their wishes if they want to talk about what is important to them. Conversations like these can be hard, but they are important to have.

Helen said: “When a loved one wants to talk about nearing end of life, it’s really important that we enable them to say what is important to them and that we listen as it will bring a shared understanding of what matters to them at this time.”

As well as helping patients create memories for their loved ones, the Trust has also introduced a ‘keeping in touch’ service and ‘virtual visiting’ by providing mobiles phones on all wards so families can spend time with their loved one, if they are unable to visit.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic over 150 RUH staff have received palliative care training and new COVID-19 resources have been developed by the Palliative Care Team to support staff on all wards so they can provide compassionate end of life care.

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NEW! Free online will service

We are pleased to have launched a free online Will-writing service to help the local community make or update their Wills from the comfort of their own homes.

To offer this service, we have partnered with Beyond, one of the UK’s top online Will-writing providers to provide the service. The cost for a single will is usually £90, but for a limited period it is being offered free of charge.

Jan Witt, Legacy and In Memory Manager said:

“We are delighted  to team up with Beyond to offer a free, quick and easy online Will writing service to the local community. We fully understand that during these uncertain times, many people are thinking about their current situation and wish to put their affairs in order. We are therefore pleased to offer this free online will service to enable everyone to make a Will, giving them peace of mind.

“This offer is free for a limited period and there is no obligation to leave a gift in your Will to support The Forever Friends Appeal. However, we hope you’ll be inspired to kindly leave a ‘gift of care’ in your Will, no matter what size, to help the RUH continue to provide the high quality of care it gives to its patients and their families for the future.”

Gifts in Wills for the RUH are used to benefit many areas of the hospital including funding pioneering research, additional medical equipment, building projects and the refurbishment of wards and facilities.

Beyond’s online interactive Will service provides easy step-by-step instructions means the process to make a legally binding simple Will should only take about 15 minutes. Anyone over the age of 18 is eligible and joint Wills for married couples are also included in the offer. Every Will is checked by one of Beyond’s in-house legal experts.

Ian Strang, Beyond’s CEO said:

“Beyond are committed to protecting UK families by helping them easily write their wills online. We’re proud to partner with the charity, The Forever Friends Appeal and support the crucial work they perform for the communities of Bath.”

To take up the offer and for more details click here 

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New COVID-19 intensive care unit opens at RUH

A new intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients, built in just 42 days, has opened at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUH).

The Pierce Intensive Care Unit has 14 beds available and, with the hospital’s existing intensive care unit, means the Trust now has space for 27 intensive care patients.

Trust Chief Executive James Scott said: “Our teams of staff and contractors have done an amazing job in creating this facility so quickly. Back in March we answered the call from the Department of Health to increase ICU capacity as part of the response to the COVID-19 global pandemic , and in just six weeks we’ve transformed and converted what was a surgical ward into one of the most sophisticated ICUs in the region.”

An improved feature of the new Pierce Intensive Care Unit’s 14 beds is that each is contained in a negative pressure environment – sealed areas with carefully controlled ventilation that prevents contaminated air from escaping the room – which maximises safety for staff and patients. Staff enter and exit via a separate room that acts as an airlock, helping to reduce the risk of infection.

ICU Lead Consultant Dr Andy Georgiou said: “This fantastic ICU is the only such facility in the South West. It allows us to do two things – firstly to expand our intensive care capacity from 13 to 27 beds, and secondly to separate the care we offer to intensive care patients. It means that if you are coming into intensive care having had, for example, a major operation, you can be confident in the knowledge that you will be cared for in a separate location to patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.

“We’re proud to open the unit and are really grateful to the Trust and our contractors and staff who have helped us to develop and build this facility in such a short space of time.”

James Scott said: “While the RUH has, thankfully, not experienced the number of positive COVID-19 patients seen in other parts of the country since the pandemic began, we have rightly followed Department of Health advice to make contingency plans. The new ICU’s extra capacity will allow the Trust to manage any future surge in intensive care demand, and also to plan for the future when more of our hospital services resume.”

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