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Former Goodyear workers give £109k to fund hospital care

A massive donation from former Goodyear factory workers in Wolverhampton has helped to transform care across Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

£21,992 of the money supported the work of the hospital's neurophysiology team

Over the past six months, The 5/344 Transport and General Workers Union Benevolent Fund has donated £109,737 to buy key pieces of equipment across five different departments.

The gifts are enabling clinicians to take part in cutting-edge research, care and training and departments which have benefitted have included oncology, surgery, speech and language therapy, neurophysiology and paediatric intensive care.

The union's benevolence funds come from sick pay left over from when the Goodyear tyre factory closed in 2017.

Over the last few years, the fund has supported many worthwhile causes in and around Wolverhampton and the Black Country, but the hospital is the first Birmingham-based charity it has helped.

The group were inspired to get in touch with the charity after a nomination by member Kevin Jackson, whose two-year-old grandson Teddy Phillips is a patient at the hospital, being treated for a heart condition.

The projects funded include the purchase of a high-fidelity newborn simulation mannequin.

The paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the hospital is the largest in the UK, and as well as providing care to some of the sickest children from across the country, it provides a series of training courses to its own staff and to PICU staff from hospitals across the region.

The mannequin, named Teddy after Kevin’s grandson, can be programmed to simulate complex scenarios and respond to interventions from the medical team with unparalleled realism.

With tracking and recording software, the mannequin allows for real-time learning along with the ability to play scenarios back to review activities and improve skills.

Funds also purchased six highly-specialised camera scopes, which will be used by surgeons during keyhole surgery, including by Dr Max Pachl, a world leader in paediatric keyhole surgery in children with cancer.

Dr Pachl is a pioneer in the use of Indocyanine Green (ICG) dye to improve surgical outcomes for young patients.

When viewed under near infrared fluorescent light, the dye turns cancerous tissue bright green, helping surgeons identify and remove all of the cancer.

Improved surgical results can reduce the need for harsh chemotherapy and radiotherapy, greatly improving the overall treatment plan and long-term health of children with cancer.

The scopes the former Goodyear factory workers purchased will be used within this type of surgery.

The gift has also had a significant impact on children born with cleft palates.

Funds were used to purchase a glidescope – a special instrument used to help manage difficult airways during surgery, as well as a portable ultrasound machine.

The use of ultrasound during speech therapy is fairly new, so the machine will be used as part of a new research study to evaluate its impact.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital cares for children born with a cleft palate from across the West Midlands.

Many of these children will go on to need speech and language therapy.

The innovative use of ultrasound as part of this therapy will allow therapists to show their young patients how their tongue is moving in real time, by placing the machine under their chin and helping the child to see and practice making sounds in different ways.

Holly Peryer, advanced specialist speech and language therapist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: “The ability to add this new tool to our service will transform outcomes for so many of our children. We are thrilled to have this equipment and to be able to take part in the research to evaluate this innovative technique in speech therapy.”

The final gift from the ex-Goodyear workers went to the neurophysiology service.

The neurophysiology team is pioneering new technology to transform care and surgical outcomes for patients with epilepsy and brain tumours.

Over the past several years, charitable donations have enabled the service to install and upgrade a groundbreaking piece of neurophysiology equipment called a navigated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (nTMS) system and a dense array electroencephalography (daEEG) system.

TMS is a completely safe, non-invasive and pain-free technology that lets neuroscientists electrically stimulate the patient’s brain to map critical areas of brain function, such as movement, language and sensory functions.

The vital information obtained is then used to help determine if surgery is a viable option for the child and, if it is, allows surgeons to plan a procedure that will protect brain function as much as possible. The daEEG allows the team to sample brain function from up to 128 positions improving the ability to localise abnormal areas of the brain.

Funds from the ex-Goodyear workers purchased a new piece of software for the system to help transcribe the data that is collected onto MRI images of the patient’s brain, making the data more clinically useful when developing surgery plans.

Peter Bill, head of the neurophysiology department, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the ex-Goodyear workers and all of the other donors who have made this work possible. Our innovation and research in this area is helping to inform practice across the hospital and the region and is making epilepsy surgery safer and more effective for children.”

Nicole Hermanns, head of philanthropy at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, added: "We’re so thankful to the 5/344 Transport and General Workers Union Benevolent Fund for their generous donation.

"The pieces of equipment we have been able to purchase with their gift will not only transform care for the patients and families currently in our care, they will help to transform how care is delivered across the Midlands and beyond.

"The ex-Goodyear workers have truly created a lasting legacy here at Birmingham Children’s Hospital that they should all be incredibly proud of.”

A group of the ex-Goodyear workers were invited to the hospital to hear first-hand, from the clinicians, the difference their gifts have made.

Cyril Barrett, from the 5/344 Transport and General workers Union Benevolent Fund charity, said: “The trustees and management committee members, along with ex-Goodyear union members, visited each of the wards we have bought equipment for. We all felt a great since of pride and hope these donations will make every ex-member and their families proud too.

“We’re thrilled to be able to support Birmingham's Children's Hospital in this way. Over the last few years, we have funded over 140 projects within our community as we aim to create a lasting legacy for our union members.

"What better legacy can there be, than to invest in our children and ensure they get the best treatment available at this world-leading hospital.”

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