Pioneering project for patients at Hornchurch hospital

PUBLISHED: 18:27 27 October 2010 | UPDATED: 12:36 28 October 2010

Screen shows Dr Val Stevenson, centre, with her team at London Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Bloomsbury, central London.

Screen shows Dr Val Stevenson, centre, with her team at London Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Bloomsbury, central London.


PATIENTS in Havering with severe mobility problems will be helped by a pioneering project which allows them to have live on-line consultations with specialists at a London hospital.

CASE STUDY: Dean Wilcox

In August 2007, Dean Wilcox, 22, from South Hornchurch, was playing football when he collapsed with a heart condition that no one had been aware of. The cardiac arrest resulted in severe damage to his brain. He is confined to a wheelchair, and has spasticity problems which cause his muscles to involuntarily contract.

Dean is cared for by his parents Lyn and Kevin. The clenching of his hands and limbs can make simple tasks like washing very difficult and he wakes several times during the night, possibly due to the discomfort caused by muscle spasms.

At 6ft 3inches it is a challenge for his parents to move him, but their main concern is that he should not be put through any stress or discomfort.

Kirsten Nutman felt Dean would be an ideal candidate for Neuroview, and his parents, his consultant at Queen’s Hospital and his GP agreed.

Last week, at St George’s Hospital, Dean was seen via the video link by Dr Val Stevenson, Consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Other members of the neurology and therapy teams from both hospitals were present, including Kirsten Nutman.

Dr Stevenson asked Lyn and Kevin how recent changes in Dean’s medication had affected him. Lyn reported that since the dosage had been reduced, Dean has been more alert but there had been little change in his muscle stiffness. Kirsten demonstrated the range of movement in Dean’s legs and zoomed in the camera so the consultant could see.

The clinical staff discussed with the Wilcox family the possibility of administering Dean’s anti-spasmodic medication via a pump into his spinal cord. This would mean that the dosage could be reduced further. They also talked about the problems with washing and dressing. Dr Stevenson suggested that he could have his medication earlier in the morning so he would be more relaxed before washing.

Lyn said: ‘It is so helpful to be given specialist information and advice this way. Anything that makes Dean more comfortable we want to do, which is why we are so grateful to have this link.’

The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery is part of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Specialist Physiotherapy is provided at St George’s Hospital by Outer North East London Community Services (ONEL CS).

Consultations are held via ‘video clinics’, which link patients and their specialist physiotherapists at St George’s Hospital, in SUtton’s Lnae, Hornchurch, with clinical experts at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in central London.

The innovation, called Neuroview, was developed by a nurse consultant at the neurology hospital.

Last year, St George’s Hospital was invited to take part in the pilot project and asked to identify a number of patients who could benefit from video consultations.

Kirsten Nutman, clinical specialist physiotherapist at St George’s, said: “Neuroview is ideal for some of our patients with spasticity problems, which are muscle spasms caused by damage to the brain due to conditions like multiple sclerosis.

L-R Lyn Wilcox, Kevin Wilcox, Dean Wilcox and Kirsten Nutman taking part in consultation at St George’s Hospital.

“People who have mobility problems suffer with discomfort and pain which affect their quality of life. These patients might have to wait a long time to see a consultant, and have to travel a long way to a specialist centre. For them, a long journey is particularly difficult and exhausting, and some patients say they take so long to recover from the travelling they would rather not go.”

She added: “As well as it being easier for Havering patients to attend St George’s, it means that I can be present at the consultation, discuss their condition with the specialist team, and immediately start any plan of action without having to wait for documents and letters.”

Last week one of the live video clinics, attended by Havering patient Dean Wilcox, was filmed simultaneously by two BBC crews at St George’s and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. The item is being broadcast later this month.

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