This morning Judy Anderson from The Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Charity gave a very informative talk on what the Charity does to support the hospital. A lot of detail was imparted so apologies for a lengthy write up.
The hospital was founded by Dr Charles West on 14 February 1852. It was his ambition to be able to offer free treatment for families of sick children who could never afford a doctor, and he opened his hospital on Great Ormond Street known as the Hospital for Sick Children. From its opening, all of its funding came from donations until 1948 when the NHS was founded and took it over.
The GOSH charity was set up to fund all the things that go above and beyond what the NHS can afford to provide as many are outside of their medical responsibilities, and this has enabled the hospital to become world-class. Most of these services have a real impact of the sick child’s well being as was demonstrated during the talk.
There are 4 areas the charity funds:
Rebuilding & Refurbishment of Buildings
They fund buildings, wards & operating theatres. The charity raised £95M to build a new research centre called the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Diseases in Children which is the first in the world. In 2021 a new Sight & Sound Centre was opened to specialise in treatments for children with sight and sound illnesses, and research also takes place here. Many existing buildings and wards are refurbished with charity money.
State of the Art Equipment
It funds specialised equipment that the NHS may not be able to afford. For example, £13M was raised for an intra-operative MRI scanner which is located next door to the operating theatre so that during brain surgery for example, the anaesthetised child can be wheeled next door and into the scanner to ensure he operation is completed and avoids future surgery.
Patient & Family Support
They provide over 100 rooms and flats for families to stay in during the sometimes lengthy stays in hospital their child needs. This avoids families being split up, having to make long expensive journeys to visit, and having the family close by aids recovery and reduces stress on the parents.
A Play Team was set up, the largest in Europe to help relieve the stress and boredom for patients, with age appropriate entertainment and fun, and distraction techniques from their treatment. Toy hospital equipment is used to help children understand the treatment they will undergo, which means they are less frightened. Music, art and games are used and teenagers are catered for with x-box gaming and other appropriate content. It gives the families respite for a short time also.
Research into new cures and treatment
The Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Diseases for Sick Children as mentioned above has 500 scientists researching into genomics, gene therapy and regenerative medicine. Additionally they can manufacture clinical grade cell and gene therapies to treat the patients, which a commercial pharmaceutical company would not take on. As these labs are one of the most advanced in the UK they played a crucial role in developing live samples of the COVID 19 virus which were used for early testing of vaccines.
Some of the initiatives introduced following the pandemic: as GOSH took children from other hospitals to allow more COVID beds to be made available the workload increased so the charity arranged meals for staff who had no time to shop, provided funds for 24 hour counselling for those who were struggling with their mental health and set up a barista coffee bar for staff which seemed to be a boost to morale.
The Play Team set up an online resource called The Power of Play (gosh.org/play) suitable for any child to help with their happiness, to build emotional resilience to cope with life’s challenges, tips on dealing with loneliness, making friends, coping with illness and loss and fear of the unknown as well as fun things to do. Additionally they funded a clinical simulation centre with realistic child models which can be programmed with different symptoms to support training for covid-related crises.
Everything the GOSH Charity does is supported by donations, volunteers and gifts in Wills. The hospital is facing a surge in referrals and a drop in funds, so donations are needed more than ever.
The above summary is a tiny example of what the charity does and more information can be found at gosh.org and click ‘Our Charity Site’ tab.