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Celebrating women creating change at UHS

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we dedicated our March members’ evening to celebrating some of the fantastic women creating change here at University Hospital Southampton. Five speakers shared their stories and the work they are doing to improve the support available for patients at UHS.

First we heard from Jo Acres, cardiac rhythm management clinical nurse specialist, and her colleague Emer Caplice, a cardiac physiologist. Supported by Emer and the cardiac physiology team, Jo is one of a number of cardiac rhythm specialist nurses at UHS who recently started performing a minor surgical procedure to implant the Reveal LINQ device, a heart rhythm monitor that is implanted under the skin of the patient’s chest. They explained how the device records electrical signals from the heart and allows patients to record episodes of heart rhythm abnormalities at home and send the data to the cardiac rhythm management team. We even got to see two of the devices: an example of one of the first Reveal LINQ monitors and the one that is currently used. The team at UHS implant around 400 of these devices every year.

Becky Rowe at members' eveningOur second speaker was Rebecca Rowe, a vaccination specialist midwife who redesigned the Princess Anne Hospital’s vaccination service for pregnant women. Previously, pregnant women were given the chance to get the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine at their GP surgery, as well as the flu vaccine, which they could also get at a pharmacy or at a limited number of community maternity services.

Rebecca identified that women often found these services difficult to access, and some were not receiving enough information about the available vaccines and why they’re important. Now that the vaccines are also available at the Princess Anne Hospital, there has been a significant improvement in the number of women having both vaccines – combined with figures from patients’ GP surgeries, the number of women getting the flu vaccine in pregnancy has more than doubled compared to last flu season.

Dr Beth McCausland, quality improvement fellow in dementia care, and Dr Vicki Osman-Hicks, a consultant in older people’s mental health, concluded the evening with a talk on G7, the enhanced dementia care unit here at UHS that they worked to establish. G7 was set up in 2017 as a safer, calmer environment where patients with complex dementia and delirium can receive medical treatment. The ward is designed to be small enough for patients to safely walk around, and looks less clinical and more like home.

Since the opening of G7, UHS has seen a reduction in the time that patients with dementia need to stay in hospital and a low rate of readmissions. Feedback from patients’ families has also been very positive, with relatives and carers praising the G7 team’s communication, professionalism and commitment to ensuring dignity and respect for their patients.

Dr McCausland also spoke about what it was like to be a young female doctor, discussing the inequality that women can still face in medicine but also reminding us that this is changing for the better: in 2017, 59% of students accepted to medical school were women.

Members’ evenings at UHS are free to attend and everyone is welcome. If you’re a member of the Trust, you’ll hear about upcoming events and have the chance to sign up. Click here for more information on becoming a member.