New Motorised Couches for Retinal Diagnosis in Outpatients

Vitreoretinal diagnosis requires a patient to lie down to enable a consultant to use an ophthalmoscope to examine their retinas.  We have purchased two new couches to replace the chairs previously used for these examinations in Outpatients.

The old chairs had no wheels, making them difficult to manoeuvre.  They were also narrow and uncomfortable and had no sides which risked a patient falling off.  Sometimes this required a consultant to carry out an examination standing up, often having to adopt strenuous postures to complete an in-depth examination.  This was uncomfortable for the patient and the consultant.

The new couches are a combination of an examination chair and a bed.  They are fully motorised, comfortable for the patient and safe.  Examinations are simpler to perform and improve patient experience and outcome.  We hope staff and patients enjoy them.

This grant cost £11,888.

20 December 2023, archived on 21 March 2024

Electrophysiology Testing Equipment

In September 2023, we purchased new electrophysiology testing equipment.

Electrophysiology involves attaching small electrodes to the skin at the side of the eyes, forehead and at the back of the head.  When the patient looks at a TV screen, the electrodes pick up the activity from the light sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye, cells in the optic nerve and then the visual areas of the brain.

Electrodiagnosis is crucial in establishing diagnosis and monitoring treatment.  It is particularly useful in patients who attend paediatrics, medical retina and uveitis clinics.

The new equipment will “future proof” the electrophysiology service for the 1 million patients that BEH cares for in and around Bristol.

It is more child-friendly, more efficient and supports more recent developments in testing.  It will also allow alignment of BEH’s testing methods with those used by Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and facilitate further development of services, potential for research projects with other centres and provision of the required quality of care within the South West.

The Friends are very proud to support this purchase to improve the service for patients and to guarantee the sustainability of this service in future.  It is a fitting and lasting tribute in memory of Paul Spry and all he did for the Bristol Eye Hospital.

This grant cost £83,750.

1 December 2023, archived on 21 March 2024
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Cataract Surgery Training

Bristol Eye Hospital organised a training event in complicated and complex cataract surgery for 16 ophthalmology trainees on 29 September.

The Friends paid for surgical consumables used during the simulation training day.  BEH Trainee Representative, Gemma Manasseh said “the trainees are now more confident in managing complex and complicated cataract surgery.  We are very grateful for your contribution to this training day.  Without it, the day could not have gone ahead.

This grant cost £2,072.

26 October 2023, archived on 15 February 2024
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Kitchen Equipment for Eye Hospital staff in Weston General Hospital

We have bought kitchen equipment – a refrigerator, a toaster and a sandwich maker – for BEH staff in Weston General.

Following the merger of the Bristol and Weston sites, the team at Weston is a core part of the BEH ophthalmology service and the Friends are delighted to purchase these items to improve the quality of the staff rest/break area.

The staff sent a lovely card thanking us.

This grant cost £289.

24 October 2023, archived on 24 January 2024

New Optical Coherence Tomography in Emergency Department

We have bought a Topcon OCT-1 Maestro 2 for the BEH Emergency Department.

The number of patients seen in BEH ED increases year on year.  Without Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) within the Department, patients at the weekend had to return for basic OCT imaging during the week causing delays and extra workload for staff in Outpatients and the Imaging Departments – which were already fully booked.  Moreover, patients had to be escorted to Level 2 or Outpatients Ground floor, adding considerable time for patients and wasting staff time escorting people.

Each OCT imaging session should now take about ten minutes, rather than an hour or more – a huge benefit for staff and patients.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists recommend that all Eye Emergency Departments should have access to an OCT device for patient care.

This grant cost £32,000 (plus a further £6,300 expected for maintenance contracts over the next five years).

23 October 2023, archived on 24 January 2024

3D TV for Slit Lamp Training

Allied ophthalmology health professionals are increasingly responsible for clinical duties and care for our patients.  It’s vital they are well trained.

Examination using a slit-lamp is the most fundamental aspect of eye examination.  It is a complex skill – often taking a long time to train and become proficient.  Using a slit lamp camera can teach basic skills in a matter of hours rather than weeks or months.  BEH has a 3D slit lamp camera system which already has excellent feedback from allied health professionals, junior doctors, medical students, and others.  The connection of this to a relatively inexpensive 3D television permits innovative, high definition, immersive training.

Patients can also benefit from this TV as they can watch back recorded videos of their examination to understand their eye condition better.

This grant cost £599.

7 March 2023, archived 16 October

Improving Room Facilities

We have funded improvements in three areas of the hospital:

  • The ground floor examination room can be very noisy when several patients are being examined at the same time.  We have funded soundproofing so that staff and patients may hear each other clearly, which enables clinicians to obtain the correct information (and it’s more private).  This grant was funded out of donations raised in memory of Graham Murphy.
  • New worksurfaces and flooring in the Imaging Office, used for printing for oncology referrals, uploading oculoplastic imaging and exporting images for doctors, as well as for training and a staff rest area.  We have created space for a new workstation and provided a much-needed uplift to the tired office which promotes tidy working and enhances staff wellbeing.
  • New worksurface with lockable cupboards in the Orthoptic Adult Assessment Room.  These allow patient notes to be kept safe and out of sight during clinics and provide safe storage of equipment and eye drops.  The room is now more appropriate for clinical assessment and much more easily cleaned between patients – and there is more space in the reception area to reduce crowding.

The total cost of all these works is £10,066.

3 February 2023, archived 16 October
Equipment bought for Patient Support Group displayed by Mary McGrory and Daria Hernet

Sight Loss Support

We have bought a range of equipment for the Patient Support Group to give to patients who need sight loss support.  Daria Hernet, the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer, says these items are especially important for people who live alone or in remote areas, without access to support.

Items purchased (from the RNIB and the Macular Society) include Liquid Level Indicators, BumperStops (for marking equipment, such as settings and functions on an oven or  washing machine, buttons on a remote control or important keys on a computer keyboard.), Hi-Vis Elasticated Arm Bands for greater walking safety and Lightweight Folding Symbol Canes.

This grant cost £1,129.

9 January 2023
Confocal microscopic image of astrocytes and blood vessels of the retina, credit: Gabriel Luna, Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California Santa Barbara via Wellcome Images (CC BY 4.0)

BEH Staff attend Ophthalmic Imaging Conference

We paid for two members of the Imaging Department to attend the Ophthalmic Imaging Association Annual Conference in Swindon.

The OIA promotes good practice, education, training and research in ocular imaging.

Alice Johns, Head of Imaging at BEH, emphasised the huge advantages of BEH Imaging staff attending this conference which would not have been possible without our support.

Both attendees said the conference was educational and enjoyable; they tested new ophthalmic equipment and shared experiences with ophthalmic photographers from other NHS Trusts – all with the same aim of providing outstanding patient care.  They have returned enthused, with new ideas and an increased understanding of conditions and imaging equipment, which they are sharing with their colleagues to improve the quality of imaging to provide a better service for BEH patients.

This grant cost £618.

1 December 2022

Emergency Department Tono-Pens

We have purchased two further Tono-Pens which are used by Emergency Department nurses to assess pressure in patients’ eyes.  A build-up of pressure can be harmful to the eye, and these pens allow a quick and easier way to check.  This improves patient safety and reduces waiting times.

The pens also allow medics to assess in-patients at the Bristol Children’s Hospital, the BRI and Southmead Hospital, which reduces inpatient stays and lessens the number of patients who need to be transferred to the Bristol Eye Hospital Emergency Department.

This grant cost £6,789.

14 November 2022

100 years’ dedicated service

Bristol Eye Hospital is deeply honoured to have had not one but two members of staff who served the hospital and its patients for over 50 years.  Gail Glew and Jenny Ward both retired in July 2022 after 51 years’ service.  This outstanding story of extraordinary loyalty and devotion is truly remarkable; many many patients and other hospital staff are very privileged to have benefitted from their expertise and devotion since 1971.  We are very proud of you both.

We were delighted to agree to the hospital’s request for funds to subsidise the cost of a retirement celebration for Gail and Jenny, especially to ensure that as many staff as possible could attend.  176 staff, former staff and other guests attended a wonderful event at the Bristol Museum on 2 July.

This grant cost £5,730.

4 November 2022

Posture Aids for patients’ use at home

Following a suggestion from a patient, Carole Brooke, we have funded posture aids (or ‘face supports’) for patients to use at home after retinal surgery.

Using a posture aid attached to the end or side of a normal bed allows a recovering patient to lie face down and keep their head still for long periods.  Doing this without a posture aid is very difficult and can be painful or cause strain to the back or neck.  Posture aids are tremendously helpful both to keep the patient comfortable and to aid recovery and outcomes after retinal surgery.

The hospital does not have any posture aids which patients can take home nor facilities to sterilise aids returned after use.  For this reason, we have agreed that our aids given to patients do not need to be returned after use.

We are grateful to Carole for bringing this to our attention, after her own experience as a patient, and we are delighted that we were able to fulfil an important need.  Carole too is delighted – she knows that “patients who use them will find it much easier to cope during a very difficult period in their lives.  I’m so pleased that I followed it up”.

Since June, we have provided 21 posture aids (at a cost of £1,435) which shows that there is a real need for them.  We have also agreed a budget to purchase more as needed until at least 29 February 2024.

4 November 2022, updated 12 December

New Lockers for staff in Outpatients

We have bought ten 3-door lockers for the Outpatients department staff changing room on Level 2.

The previous lockers were very old and rusty.  Many of the doors had bent out of shape and no longer closed and the locks were all broken.  Staff had no adequate space to keep their belongings while at work; bags often had to be left on the floor.

With new lockers, the staff changing room is a much nicer – and tidier! – environment.

This grant cost £1,093.

10 August 2022

Dr Paul Spry Memorial

We contributed £595 towards the cost of a memorial service for Dr Paul Spry held in the hospital’s Robert Dickson garden for staff on 6 July 2022.

Paul Spry, who was Head of Optometry (& guitarist in BEH’s resident band), died suddenly and prematurely in August 2021.  This was tragic news to all his colleagues who felt he was irreplaceable.  He had set up the electrodiagnostic department; had a distinguished academic career; was a fantastic colleague to work with, combining very high standards with fun; always ready to go the extra mile to help diagnosis and to benefit patients.

The BEH leadership team waited for a suitable moment when distancing restrictions had been lifted to allow a group meeting to reflect on Paul’s career and his exceptional contributions to the hospital, its staff and its patients.

31 July 2022

Orthoptic Examination Chairs for Children and Adults

We have bought nine examination chairs for the Orthoptic Department.

These chairs, suitable for children and adults, benefit staff and patients.  They can be raised so the Orthoptist can assess a child at eye level for patient comfort and prevent back strain for Orthoptists.  They are sturdy, have arm rests, with a solid base to prevent tipping and are wipe clean.  They can also be locked into position to prevent a child spinning in the chair when being tested.

The Friends have supported the purchase of these chairs (and in the outpatients department previously), as NHS funding to replace existing chairs is not currently prioritised over other more critical equipment.

This grant cost £6,858.

31 July 2022

Emergency Department now have their own Thomson Test Charts!

The hospital uses Thomson Test Charts to check patients’ vision as an integral part of their examination in the Emergency Department.

We have purchased four Thomson Charts complete with mini PCs and 24″ clinical quality LCD monitors including infrared control and wall mounting brackets.  We also paid for annual software support, installation and staff training provided by Thomson Software Solutions.

Prior to our purchasing these, the ED had to borrow charts from Outpatients.  ED now have their own permanent charts.

This grant cost £6,868.

28 April 2022

New Privacy Screens in Emergency Department Treatment Room

The Friends have bought four mobile folding privacy screens for the Emergency Department treatment room.  All patients who attend ED have to go through the treatment room.

The new screens, which replace inadequate curtains, provide additional privacy for patients and allow more flexible use of the space available.

This grant cost £6,229.

28 April 2022

Outpatient chairs “a million times better”

We have paid for 22 new clinical examination chairs for outpatient departments to replace previous chairs that were over ten years old.  The new chairs are height-adjustable, more stable, have arms and a less slippery surface, all new features which help patients get in and out of the chairs more easily.  They also make examination of patients’ eyes more comfortable for patients and staff.  Staff have described them as “a million times better than the previous ones”  and say that patients find the arms particularly helpful.

This grant cost £12,650.

5 October 2021

Volk VistaView Hand-held Mydriatic Camera

Covid-19 can cause retinal haemorrhages and other severe eye problems.  Covid-19 patients may also have pre-existing eye disease like hypertensive or diabetic retinopathy, which could be exacerbated by Covid-19 infection.  Direct ophthalmoscopy requires getting very close to the patient and the risk of virus transmission is high, even when wearing personal protective equipment. At present the only way ophthalmologists can examine the eye safely is by indirect ophthalmoscopy, which cannot take photographs.

The Friends have bought a new portable hand-held light-weight camera which will enable eye doctors to examine and record, without getting too close, the fundal features of Covid-19 patients in the BRI or Weston General and also non-Covid patients who are too sick to come to BEH.  The images can then be shared for consultation with colleagues on how to manage the condition and stored on the patient’s record.  The camera is also helping clinical research into the retinal changes and neurological complications associated with Covid-19.

This grant cost £1,149 and was funded out of donations raised in memory of Graham Murphy.

17 June 2021

Electric Couch for Patients in Paediatric Clinic

One of the paediatric clinic rooms where patients are diagnosed and treated did not have a couch for patients to lie on.  If the clinician needed the patient to lie down, patient and clinician had to wait until a room with a couch became available.  Now we have provided a couch for this room consultations are not interrupted.  This vastly improves the experience for the patient and saves everyone’s time.  The hospital now has more paediatric consultants seeing more and more patients so an uninterrupted flow through the clinics benefits everyone.

This grant cost £1,136 and was funded out of donations raised in memory of Graham Murphy.

We gratefully acknowledge Ocura’s permission to reproduce their photograph.

17 June 2021

Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope

In order to reduce waiting times for patients requiring joint Orthoptic/Optometry appointments, BEH staff are now running additional sessions at the Spire hospital.

This service would not have been possible without the provision of a Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope paid for by the Friends.

This grant cost £2,995.

20 April 2021

New Tonometers enable BEH staff to run a glaucoma clinic at Weston General Hospital

Part of the integration of United Hospitals Bristol with Weston Area Trust, which was completed in September 2020, was to expand and develop the ophthalmic service at Weston, which is run by BEH staff.  We paid £10,800 to buy two iCare tonometers (and 4,000 disposable probes) which were urgently needed so that the new glaucoma clinic could get under way.

Tonometers are used to check intra-ocular pressures and have huge advantages for patients and staff over older instruments used for the same purpose.  These tonometers make the experience for patients quicker and more comfortable – they reduce the need to instil anaesthetic drops which invariably sting and often cause distress.  They are accurate and can be used on babies, children and any patient unable to sit at a slit-lamp, even a patient who is lying down.

Importantly, during the current health crisis, a patient can be examined at arm’s length giving increased protection from infection for operators and patients.

We gratefully acknowledge that the supplier, Mainline Instruments Ltd, kindly provided 500 disposable probes free of charge.

We also paid £4,000 for an identical additional tonometer for the Emergency Department in Bristol, who have to examine patients aged from one day old to 100 years.

9 March 2021

Day Care Outpatient Surgery Treatment Chair

We funded a new treatment couch for Emergency Department patients to replace the previous uncomfortable couch which was over 25 years old and not user friendly for patients or staff.

It can be used as a chair or couch with patients being easily, smoothly and comfortably moved into the best position for treatment depending on their particular needs.  It is adjusted electronically for height, backrests, sides, arm and leg rests and even has an emergency foot pedal for immediate CPR positioning.

This grant cost £3,560.

9 March 2021

Motorised Chairs for Intra-Vitreal Injections

The Friends have funded two fully motorised chairs, with footrests, for use with patients receiving intra-vitreal injections in Out-Patient Departments in Weston General Hospital and the South Bristol Community Hospital.  The chairs are:

  • more comfortable for patients and adjustable to give them better support when undergoing this fairly daunting monthly procedure;
  • easy for the staff to manoeuvre & height-adjustable to avoid risk of back injury; and
  • robust enough to cope with high levels of usage and should last significantly longer than similar previous chairs.

We have also funded two more of these Takagi motorised chairs as well as two autodesk workstations for use in the BEH outpatient clinics, ensuring that clinicians can use identical equipment in all eight clinics.

These grants cost £28,255.

23 October 2020, archived 26 July 2021
Katie Lear and Rhys Harrison with new Emergency Department Slit Lamp and Table

New Slit Lamp and Table for Emergency Department

In 2020, we purchased a new slit lamp and table to replace Emergency Department equipment which was over 20 years’ old.

The new slit lamp has superior optics for examining patients’ eyes in more detail.  The wheelchair-friendly table means patients with limited mobility are spared the strain of transferring to another chair.  This saves time and effort and allows staff to examine more patients per day.

Katie Lear (Emergency Department Sister) and Rhys Harrison (Consultant Ophthalmologist and ED Service Lead) are both overjoyed with the new equipment.  Rhys said “I thank the Friends for this most exceptional gift.  The optics are fantastic and it is buttery smooth.  We really do appreciate your kind support.  I now have staff fighting to go in the room with it.  So from all of the Emergency Department team, a big thank you.”

This grant cost £22,980 including the cost of a maintenance contract.

1 September 2020, updated 25 May 2021

Arts group provides face visors and masks to Bristol Eye Hospital

In April 2020, Jo Symmons organised her arty friends (and friends of friends) to make and supply 3,000 protective face visors and masks free of charge to local care homes, charities, hospices and hospitals.

Bristol Eye Hospital were delighted to receive 100 of these and informed us so we could add our very grateful thanks to Jo.  We paid for the full cost of the materials used to make the visors supplied to the hospital.

1 June 2020

‘Grab-bag’ for Bristol Eye Hospital emergency team

In February 2020, we paid £10,472 for a ‘grab-bag’ containing all the equipment the on-call BEH Emergency Department team needs to take when they examine patients in other Bristol hospitals.  This avoids having to move frail or poorly patients who need an eye examination.

The ‘kit’ comprises a portable slit lamp, an indirect ophthalmoscope, a practitioner ophthalmoscope and a tonometer (for measuring pressure within the eye).

Although other hospitals’ Emergency Departments have access to slit lamps, these require the patient to be moved to sit up at the slit lamp table.  The portable slit lamp and its associated equipment can be taken to the patient and manoeuvred easily into the right position.

Ophthalmology technology has evolved to support quicker and more thorough review, diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions in less invasive ways than previously.  This is particularly important when dealing with children or the elderly and so this ‘grab-bag’ and its contents are a boon to patients and staff.

11 March 2020

iPads for Immunosuppression Support Nurses

Three iPads for nurses who counsel and screen patients prior to immunosuppression therapy care, including patients with ocular inflammation in the uveitis, corneal and adnexal services. By allowing nurses to access each patient’s details (including, for example, ordering blood tests and checking results, pharmaceutical records, appointments and medical evidence regarding treatment regimens etc) from anywhere in the hospital, the iPads greatly enhance the quality of care provided, improve efficiency and allow nurses to spend more time with each patient.

11 March 2020
The retinal camera

Sight-saving help for premature babies

Friends of Bristol Eye Hospital and Above & Beyond joined forces to provide a portable retinal camera for paediatric ophthalmologists who need to examine babies in St Michael’s Hospital and the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit of the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children as well as in the Eye Hospital.

The state-of-the-art Forus Neo retinal camera has a specially designed wide-angled lens that gives a close-up view of the blood vessels at the back of a baby’s eyes.

It is used for diagnosing a condition that affects more than half of all premature babies. If found in time this can be treated, but if not they will have detached retinas and be blind. The survival rate for premature babies has improved significantly over recent years, which means the hospital is seeing more babies with severe problems.

The camera is also used to examine babies whose condition might be the result of being shaken, so it is vitally important to have reliable images upon which to base a diagnosis which may be given as evidence in court.

It supersedes two cameras also funded by the Friends. Consultant Ophthalmologist Cathy Williams said “The old Retcam was itself a game-changer but it weighs a ton, is very difficult to manoeuvre and impossible to move from one hospital to another. The Forus Neo is so easy to take around to all three hospitals where we need it, so instead of needing three machines, this one machine can do the lot. It gives very good quality pictures, at least as good as the Retcam, and it’s even better than expected because it’s so much quicker and easier to use when actually on the ward; easier for the babies, easier for us. I could not be more pleased and grateful.”

The Friends granted £20,825 (one third of cost) with Above & Beyond paying the balance.

16 July 2019, revised 7 August 2020

Confocal microscope

In March 2019, the Friends made a grant of £45,349 for a Confocal Microscope, which is an invaluable tool in the diagnosis of infective conditions of the cornea (keratitis), particularly fungal infections and infection with the single-celled organism called acanthamoeba.  BEH has experienced a marked increase in cases of acanthamoeba keratitis – a very painful and sight-threatening condition which can result in the loss of an eye.

Examination with this microscope enables much more accurate diagnosis.  The microscope makes contact with the patient’s eye (in the same way as a contact lens), so a local anaesthetic is used, but the patient must be awake during the examination.  The patient sits in a chair as for a slit-lamp examination and the doctor can see the layers of the cornea right down to a cellular level.  Fungal and acanthamoeba infections have a characteristic appearance on confocal microscopy and this helps the doctor to know which antibiotic or disinfectant will best control the infection.

Bristol Eye Hospital can now offer a diagnostic service previously unavailable in the south-west.  Patients no longer have to be referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital, saving them a difficult journey to London while in physical distress.  The images are captured in Bristol and the complicated interpretation of the images is an on-going joint project between BEH and Moorfields.

Patients are referred to Bristol from all over the south-west of England and south Wales.

22 March 2019, updated 14 May 2021

New mural on Level 3

Since January 2019, visitors to Gloucester Ward have been welcomed by a large and colourful mural – commissioned by the hospital’s management, designed and painted by local artist Amy Hutchings and paid for by the Friends.

Amy was asked to create a colourful, vibrant and positive image illustrating Bristol Eye Hospital as central to eye health in the city. It also had to be robust and easily cleaned to conform to modern hospital health and safety standards. Amy’s design includes BEH in a skyline with green space, sky and water and uses primary colours more visible to the partially sighted and appealing to all ages.

Consultant Denize Atan commented “Hospitals are designed and decorated to meet pragmatic demands on space within a limited budget. Few hospitals have budgets to make spaces appealing, yet studies have shown that exposure to ‘greenness’ and natural environments may improve surgical outcomes. So we are excited to work with Amy to improve the hospital environment by decorating indoor spaces with outdoor scenes.”

The Friends were delighted to fund this project and we’re sure you’ll agree that it creates a much brighter and welcoming environment.

Other examples of Amy Hutchings’ work can be found on her website.

26 February 2019, amended 9 May 2019