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Mental Health Hospital teams up with Crawley Town Football Club to promote physical fitness

Mental health patients given a new ‘goal’ to improve their physical fitness.

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A mental health hospital in Crawley has joined forces with Crawley Town Football Club to help promote patients’ physical health and wellbeing

Weekly football training sessions are hosted at Langley Green Hospital courtesy of Crawley Town FC’s Community Foundation. The hospital is run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides specialist mental health and learning disability services for all ages in Sussex as well as mental health services for young people in Hampshire.

The sessions, which have been running since summer 2017, offer patients of any age and footballing ability the chance to learn new skills and have fun whilst getting some all-important exercise.

In return, staff, including Occupational Therapist Steven Rowley who set up the initiative, provided mental health awareness training to all of the coaches at the club.

Steven said: “It’s really important that people have access to a range of activities to help keep their bodies active during their time in hospital. When someone is struggling with their mental health it can be really easy to focus on that alone, but we all know that the mind and body are intrinsically linked, so we have to make sure we’re looking after both aspects of a person’s wellbeing during their stay.

“Exercise needs to be fun and that’s why these sessions are so popular. Even people who’ve never played football before come away with a smile on their face. And the great thing is that the sessions don’t stop once someone is well enough to return home. Crawley Town FC host community sessions one afternoon a week, which are preceded by employment skills sessions where people can get advice on things like writing a CV and searching for work. Combining the two is really helping to support people’s recovery and integration back into their local community.”

The patients are put through their paces at the weekly sessions by Community Foundation Co-ordinator, Adam Wicking.

Adam said: “The sessions provide a bit of relief and respite for service users. It’s great to have a space for enjoyable exercise and to interact without talking, if people prefer.

“I really love working with and meeting so many different people. I have such interesting conversations when running these groups and look forward to the sessions.”

A patient who regularly attends the sessions said: “It is fantastic having football here at the hospital. It is a good way of releasing some of that energy and it helps distract me from what’s going on in my head.”

Health & Wellbeing

South East’s diagnostic units struggling with demand for life-saving bowel cancer tests

These tests detect bowel cancer, the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, early when it is easier to treat and patients have a greater chance of survival.

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Over 20 hospitals in the South East of England are in breach of a waiting time target for life-saving tests that could diagnose bowel cancer. Under NHS rules patients should wait no more than six weeks, but in one hospital in the region 25% per cent of patients are waiting beyond this time.  

Patients should wait no more than six weeks for a colonoscopy test that can detect bowel cancer early when it is easier to treat. Referrals may be from a variety of sources. Approximately over half of patients (55%) are diagnosed with bowel cancer via a GP referral, a quarter are diagnosed in an emergency such as patients going to A&E, and 10% are diagnosed through screening.

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The waiting times published by NHS England on Thursday 11 October is further evidence that demand for diagnostic tests are outstripping capacity. Many hospitals are at breaking point because they simply do not have the capacity to meet the growing demand for these services. A lack of funding, limited resources and a shortage of staff to carry out the number of procedures needed are contributing to this.

To reduce the number of patients waiting longer than the NHS target for these vital tests, Bowel Cancer UK’s ‘End the Capacity Crisis’ campaign is calling on the government to invest in more NHS staff to work in bowel cancer units in North of England, Yorkshire and the Humber hospitals.

The two key tests to diagnose bowel cancer are colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy – a camera on a thin, flexible cable inserted through the anus to look at different parts of the bowel.  These tests are known as endoscopy procedures and can detect cancer at the earliest stage of the disease, when it is more treatable, and even prevent cancer through the removal of pre-cancerous growths (polyps).

The three hospitals with some of the highest percentage of patients waiting more than six weeks for colonoscopy appointments in August 2018 are: Brighton and Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust (25%), University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (17%) and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (9%).

The three hospitals with some of the highest percentage of patients waiting more than six weeks for flexible sigmoidoscopy appointments are: Brighton and Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust (33%), University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (9%) and Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust (5%).

Ahead of the Government spending review in November, Bowel Cancer UK is calling on Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt Hon Philip Hammond, and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, The Rt Hon Matt Hancock, to work together to develop a fully funded action plan to tackle NHS staff shortages in diagnostic services for bowel cancer and end the capacity crisis. Thousands of people, including patients, NHS staff, leading professional bodies and Members of Parliament, have backed the charity’s call by signing a letter to Government.

Asha Kaur, Head of Policy & Campaigns at Bowel Cancer UK, says:

“These waiting time figures present a worrying picture for patients and demonstrate the urgent need for the Government to make addressing this capacity crisis a national priority. If hospitals are expected to meet waiting time targets then they must be given the resources and capacity to enable them to meet these standards.”

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