Patient caravan holidays and a new cancer ward among Northamptonshire charities top successes
A charity that purely exists to make experiences better for hospital patients, their families and the staff who treat them is celebrating its huge success stories, and third birthday.
Northamptonshire Health Charity (NHC) funds above and beyond what the NHS can afford. And, whether that be a new hospital buggy for patients, a revamped chemotherapy suite or a week-long caravan holiday for chemotherapy patients in Dorset, the charity has without doubt become one of the backbones in supporting Northamptonshire hospitals.
Through fundraising days, generous donations and cash left through legacies, the charity income over the last three years has hit £3.6 million, which has been spent on countywide projects in major and community hospitals.
Charity co-ordinator Alison McCulloch at NHC said one of the charities fondest achievements was being able to fund a new £350,000 haematology and oncology bay at NGH to treat cancer patients.
"The most recent one that's made a massive difference was fundraising for the Talbot Butler emergency assessment bay. The service was already there Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm because the NHS has to supply that.
"But if you're ill after five o'clock in the evening or nine o'clock in the morning or at the weekend, you have to go via A&E. Sitting in A&E isn't very good for people with suppressed immune systems, so being able to arrive at the back door of Talbot and Butler Ward after letting them know you're coming is great.
"The nurses there know who they are talking to, they are familiar with them and they know their case because they are on oncology nurses and they are looked after straight away."
The charities money does not pay for standard equipment or medicines but pays for what the NHS cannot. Like a football team and an allotment for mental health patients and on every ward now there is a box of activities for dementia patients, including dominoes.
Often patients decide they would like to fundraise for the charity after they have had to wait to use a piece of machinery, if it's in high demand, or if they would like other's to have a more comfortable experience.
"We are almost like a support mechanism for patients, donors and the hospital staff," Alison added. "From the hospital side they have got somewhere to come to actually throw their ideas and say 'we could do with this in the department - do you think the charity would be able to support it'?"
The charity has also been used as a form of closure for many family members who have a lost a loved one and want to raise funds in their memory.
"We are happy that we can support and help.
“People come and make donations in memory of a loved one and that's a bit of closure for them.”
She added: “We help with that big thank you as well - sometimes people leave the ward and give that box of chocolates to the midwife or consultants but they want to go that bit further to say thank you, and they can't accept money or gifts personally."