IN A UK first, Solihull hospital has has scooped a national award for its commitment to patients living with incurable blood cancer.
Good Hope Hospital, Heartlands Hospital, Solihull Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham were each presented with the Myeloma UK Clinical Service Excellence Programme Award in recognition of their outstanding care and dedication to patients with myeloma, an incurable blood cancer which claims the lives of 3,000 people in the UK each year.
This is the first time every hospital in a single NHS trust has received the award.
Staff at each site were praised for their efforts to improve patients’ quality of life and eagerness to adapt and truly listen to their needs.
Charlotte Coldrick, Myeloma Cancer nurse specialist at Heartlands and Solihull Hospitals, said: “It is such an honour to receive these awards. It makes me feel proud of the whole team who work so hard to support patients every day.”
Myeloma is especially hard to spot as its symptoms are often vague and dismissed as ageing or other minor conditions.
By the time many patients are diagnosed their cancer has often advanced and they require urgent treatment. This can significantly impact their chances of survival and quality of life.
Jess Turner, clinical practice services programme manager at Myeloma UK, said: “This is a complete first – we’ve never presented this award to every single hospital in the same NHS trust before.
“Myeloma is a complex cancer which can be challenging to manage, so to see each team going the extra mile day after day to give patients a fighting chance to live well for as long as possible is really inspiring.”
Michael Sadler, aged 68, from Shirley, was diagnosed with smouldering myeloma, an early form of myeloma which usually progresses to active cancer at a slower rate, just before Christmas 2018.
The retired engineer had been suffering from an infection he simply couldn’t shake and consulted his GP. But despite being prescribed antibiotics, the infection didn’t clear.
Blood tests eventually revealed his infection was caused by smouldering myeloma.
He was 65 years old at the time.
At the tail end of 2021, just three years after his initial diagnosis, scans flagged lesions, or holes, on his skull.
The cancer had turned active.
Michael, a grandfather-of-one, has been receiving treatment at Solihull Hospital ever since.
“They’re all brilliant,” said Michael, who has two stepdaughters.
“The nurses work really hard and they’re really caring. You get more personal care at Solihull. They know you by name and they really look after me – especially Cancer Nurse Specialist Charlotte Coldrick.
“Whenever I’ve had issues, she’s got straight back to me.”
Now recovering from a stem cell transplant, Michael is hoping to get back to living his life as best he can.
“I’ve just got to get on with it, that’s my attitude,” he added. “I’ve got no symptoms so it’s not really affecting me at the moment. I’m looking forward to getting back out, and getting back to running. I’m focusing on the things I want to do.”
Fellow patient Raymond Stokes, from Solihull, was 63 when he was diagnosed with smouldering myeloma.
The father-of-two had just returned from a trip to Thailand when he started to feel pain in his leg. He went to the hospital and although he was told nothing was wrong with his leg, two days later blood tests showed the pain was caused by an incurable blood cancer.
Raymond, now 76, has been receiving care at Solihull Hospital since the cancer became active eight months ago. He’s about to start his sixth round of treatment in a couple of weeks.
“My treatment has been absolutely excellent, I couldn’t fault it,” said the retired painter and decorator.
“They’ve explained everything to me. The nurses, the doctors, they’re all super.”