Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust has unveiled state-of-the-art technology to help treatment with speech and or swallowing disorders after a former patient funded the purchase with a legacy donation to the Trust in her will.

Jean Watts, who sadly passed away in 2017 aged 86, donated an incredible £40,000 to the Trust through the Maidstone Hospital League of Friends which has helped towards the cost of the innovative Fibreoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallow (FEES) Stack.

The donation was further supported by the Maidstone Hospital League of Friends who contributed to the cost of the £57,000 equipment.

On 29 August, staff from the Trust were joined by members of Jean’s family and MTW Chief Executive, Miles Scott, as a short demonstration of the equipment took place.

The equipment, which will be used by the Trust’s Speech and Language Therapy service, is used in the treatment of the throat and airway for assessing both swallow and voice disorders, serving as a fitting legacy left by Jean, with herself losing the ability to swallow after suffering strokes in 2005 and 2016.

The FEES Stack uses digital and narrow band imaging to provide the most accurate results for detecting very early cancers and reduces the need for extensive biopsies.

The portable device also enables quicker de-cannulation from tracheostomy and is estimated to save approximately 234 Radiology clinic hours per year.

MTW’s Clinical Manager for Speech and Language Therapy, Vickey Petrie, says: “The purchase of this wonderful equipment for the Speech and Language Therapy service will help countless patients who experience speech and swallowing difficulties during their admission.

“We will be able to reduce the number of patients requiring tube feeding, prevent aspiration pneumonias, wean patients from ventilators more quickly and offer the most modern of therapeutic technologies for restoring speech and swallow skills.

“We are eternally thankful to the late Jean Watts for her incredibly generous donation, especially knowing that Jean herself experienced severe swallowing difficulties in her later years.”

To find out more about making a donation to the Trust’s charity, please contact Fundraising Manager, Laura Kennedy on 01622 226428 or laura.kennedy8@nhs.net