The Nutrition Nurse Team at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, which has seen an almost 50 per cent rise in artificial nutrition cases, helped deliver two study days on July 23 and 24 on behalf of The Nightingale Trust. It is now planned to repeat the event next year. The Nightingale Trust funds nurses’ education with an emphasis on improving their knowledge of supporting patients who rely on artificial nutrition.
This involves Parenteral Nutrition, or intravenous feeding, where a tube is inserted directly into the patient’s blood stream, or Enteral Nutrition, in which the person is fed directly through a tube in the gut. Such was the demand for the course from hospital trusts as far afield as Hertfordshire, the Wirral and Norfolk, that all 12 places were filled.
Also attending over the two days was Lynne Colagiovanni, who was a consultant nutrition nurse at the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham before becoming a trustee of The Nightingale Trust following her retirement. She said: “The Nightingale Trust was formed about eight years ago, initially by some patients who needed artificial nutrition who perhaps felt that nursing staff could benefit from some additional training. “So one of the major aims is to work alongside the NHS and provide education and training around nutritional support, primarily for nurses, but maybe branch out in the future and offer it for doctors as well.”
The Nightingale Trust, which also produces education and training resources for hospital trusts that do not have them, paid for the nurses to attend the course in Birmingham, and also met their accommodation costs. The charity is currently looking for more people to fundraise on its behalf. Lynne was succeeded at University Hospitals Birmingham by Nutrition Nurse Team Leader Jane Fletcher, who said: “The charity has been tasked with trying to improve nutrition across all hospitals.
“They are trying to have nutrition training available for nurses around the country, and this was the first one of these study days we have run.” Added Jane: “We have had nutrition nurses at the hospital for 20 years, and have developed an education package with Lynne, which is why our nurses led the course. “It was recognised that there was a specific need to look after very complicated patients who need specialised feeding – artificial nutrition through tubes - because they cannot eat or drink normally.
“Over the years this service has grown because we have far more specialist patients who need tube feeding. This includes patients who might have had a stroke, very complicated gastrointestinal surgery, or head and neck cancer patients. “We also get a lot of patients with severe head injuries, particularly since the hospital was designated a Major Trauma Centre last year.”
The figures show a significant increase in the number of patients requiring artificial nutrition at QEHB in the last 12 months, leading to plans to expand the current team of two trained nutrition nurses and a support worker. In 2011-12, the team saw 692 Enteral Nutrition patients, but this has increased by almost 50 per cent to 978 in 2012-13. At the same time, the total for Parenteral Nutrition patients has risen from 173 to 224.
Jane said: “The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued guidelines in 2006 for more hospital trusts to have nutrition nurses if they have complicated patients, but I am not sure that they have the education training package which we have here. “That is what the charity is looking to do, to fill that gap, and why we would like to see this become an annual event here in Birmingham.”
The QEHB event followed a successful similar course run by The Nightingale Trust at St Mark's Hospital in London last year.
Added Lynne: “The Trust decided to look for venues in other parts of the country to make the course more accessible to those living outside London. Key to choosing a venue was excellent training facilities and nutrition nurses with appropriate knowledge, experience and enthusiasm. Birmingham seemed ideal on all counts.”
Following the QEHB study days, Anne Bruton, Senior Sister at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said: “This was an excellent course with very experienced teachers. It was an inspiration for the future development in my area.” And Donna Wainman, Nutrition Support Specialist Nurse, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said it was the best two study days she had ever experienced, adding: “I wish I had this when I came in to post.”