Fundraisers and clinicians at Southampton Children’s Hospital are set to launch a pioneering outpatient rehabilitation service for young brain and spinal tumour patients.
The first member of the team, physiotherapist Kate Gatehouse, will start next month and will focus on providing care for children once they have been discharged from hospital following treatment.
Her post will become the first to be funded by children’s charity robbiesrally, which is part of Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity, and was set up in memory of 10-year-old patient Robbie Keville at his request by father Mark and siblings Harry and Lara.
Currently, rehabilitation for children after neurosurgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment across the NHS is provided while patients remain in hospital but is limited once they return home.
“While treatment has improved recently in terms of saving lives, children who survive generally have more lasting damage as a result of the tumour and its treatment than those afflicted with other forms of cancer,” explained Mark, who began fundraising in 2015 with an off-road car rally in ill-suited vehicles.
“It has been shown that children benefit enormously from follow-on rehabilitation from, among others, neuropsychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists for their physical and psychological development.
“However, this treatment is often only available to the most seriously ill children who qualify for an inpatient stay when discharged children are often in very great need of rehabilitation so that they can return to normal lives, fulfilling their potential at home and at school.”
His aim is to provide a complete outpatient rehabilitation service – known as Robbie’s Rehab – in partnership with Southampton Children’s Hospital and Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity.
The children’s neurosurgery unit in Southampton sees around 300 patients a year with a range of brain conditions and is among the country’s top performers, with a survival rate of 98.8% against a national average of 93.3%.
Aabir Chakraborty, clinical lead for children’s neurosurgery at Southampton Children’s Hospital, said: “We are extremely proud of the high level of performance of our unit and excellent outcomes but rehabilitation remains an area in need of improvement nationwide.
“This exciting project, led by such a fantastic group in robbiesrally, will make a huge difference to our young patients, helping them to return to as normal a life as possible. I am proud to be associated with this work and look forward to seeing the benefits for our patients.”
Physiotherapist Kate added: “I am incredibly excited and honoured to be the first member to join what will be an incredible team as part of Robbie’s Rehab.
“This role will help to provide specialist care and support to the lives of many children and families and I can’t wait to get started.”
Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity enhances the care and treatment of young patients by raising funds to support areas that lie beyond the scope of NHS funding. For more information on robbiesrally, visit www.facebook.com/robbiesrally or www.robbiesrally.com.