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Celebrating outstanding care, innovation and the development of services – we’re taking a look back at some of the fantastic staff and patient stories Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) has shared with the media over the last 12 months.

Kicking off January, Kent Online covered the visit from Steve Barclay, then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Mr Barclay visited Maidstone Hospital and our ‘mission control’ and heard about the many innovative ways of working the Trust has introduced which has enabled us to meet emergency, surgery and cancer standards and deliver some of the fastest patient care in the country.

In February, visits by both NHS England Chair, Richard Meddings, and NHS England Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, were featured in the Times of Tunbridge Wells. The visits focused on the success of the Trust’s electronic bed management system which supports the effective management of bed capacity, patient flow and the delivery of planned care. The benefits of the real time data system were also covered in an article in The Economist.

Performance at MTW was also recognised regionally and nationally in February when the Trust was moved to level 1 in the NHS System Oversight Framework (SOF), which recognised the significant improvements and progress made by staff across the Trust in recent years. This achievement was highlighted by the Health Service Journal (HSJ). Rounding off the month, an article by our Clinical Specialist Stroke and Neuro Rehab Physiotherapist, Charlotte Buttery, was published in a prestigious clinical journal. ‘Use of the Rehabilitation Treatment Specification System (RTSS) in the management of nitrous oxide (N2O)-induced spinal cord injury’ featured in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

In spring, our Kent Oncology Centre was the focus of a BBC South East News four day special which featured the teams involved in providing lifesaving cancer care to a population of 1.9 million people. The powerful coverage looked at the impact a cancer diagnosis has on patients, their families and the staff who look after them.

Throughout March and April, The Net magazine published articles which featured the work of the Trust in helping hip fracture patients get the treatment they need so that they can go home quickly, as well as the new Orthopaedic Assessment Unit at Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

May was a busy month, and began with the Neonatal Unit at Tunbridge Wells Hospital becoming one of only four units in the UK to receive platinum accreditation in the Bliss Baby Charter. This achievement and the care provided was recognised by the Infant Journal. BBC South East News and ITV Meridian both reported on the ground-breaking reconstructive knee surgery that Tunbridge Wells Hospital Is trialling on young patients with ACL injuries. This story was also featured in the Daily Express.

Kent Online covered a visit by Maidstone Borough Council’s Alison Broom to our Integrated Discharge Team (IDT) at Maidstone Hospital. The Council’s Chief Executive saw first-hand how the collaboration between Maidstone Hospital and Maidstone Borough Council ensures patients are supported to get home quickly and safely as soon as they are well enough. At the end of May, NursingNotes featured our Intensive Care Unit, who helped ICU patients enjoy time with their family and pets in a specially-created outdoor garden which supports their rehabilitation.

In the summer, BBC South East News featured our Consultant Breast and Oncoplastic Surgeon, Deepika Akolekar, who hiked Mount Kilimanjaro with six woman including local MP and former patient Tracey Crouch. The group raised an impressive £153k which will fund new state of the art cancer equipment for our Kent Oncology Centre.

In September, it was lights, camera, action at Tunbridge Wells Hospital as filming began on A&E After Dark, a Channel 5 television series that focuses on the reality of night shifts in the Emergency Department. You can watch the programme on 5STAR every Thursday at 9pm (until Feb 15) or catch up on the My5 app. The Times of Tunbridge Wells covered the Women In International Medicine Network (WIMIN) conference in Tunbridge Wells, hosted by our colleagues, consultant anaesthetists Dr Kate Stannard and Dr Helen Burdett, and opened by Chief Executive, Miles Scott.

In October, to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Claire Ryan, our Macmillan Nurse Consultant for Metastatic Breast Cancer was interviewed on Heart FM. Claire spoke to hosts Amanda Holden and Jamie Theakston about being breast aware, when to report something that feels or looks different from normal and when to seek professional help. And our Specialist Neurophysiotherapist and Clinical Lead for Stroke, Catherine Mandri, was interviewed by the team at NIHR Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Catherine spoke about her own research career and why she would love to see more allied health professionals (AHPs) involved in and leading research projects.

It was ‘topping out’ time in November and Kent Online reported on the visit by MP Greg Clark to the multimillion-pound Kent and Medway Orthopaedic Centre which is under construction at Maidstone Hospital. The Tunbridge Wells MP took part in the ceremony which celebrated the new building reaching its highest point. We also went back in time, when both Kent Online and The Archaeologist reported on a mystery skull that underwent a CT scan at Maidstone Hospital before it went on display. The skull, which was unearthed at an historic site, is being investigated to try and find out who the person was.

And to round off the year, in December, BBC South East Today broadcast their flagship nightly news programme live from Tunbridge Wells Hospital as part of a special report on winter pressures. The programme featured interviews with Emergency Department, Virtual Ward and operational colleagues, and covered our plans to provide care to as many patients as possible during the winter months.

Overall, 2023 was a busy year for media at MTW and we’re looking forward to sharing more stories with you all in 2024!