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Revolutionary clinic offers hope to patients and their families

20 January 2014

Health Care

Hundreds of people suffering from lupus and forms of sclerosis could have their lives extended by pioneering new treatment at Southend University Hospital.

Professor Bhaskar Dasgupta, one of the world's leading experts in rheumatology, established a clinical trial that helped Pat Hudson enjoy five precious years of life after she was diagnosed with diffuse systemic sclerosis with pulmonary arterial hypertension and osteoporosis.

"She was a very ill lady," recalls Professor Dasgupta. "Given her circumstances at the time and the normal course of treatment, she did not have very long to live. I invited her to try a new drug, Talafil and she bravely agreed. For Pat it was something of a success, as she went on to live five more happy years with her husband Terry, and sons Glen and Darren."

After this inspiring and positive experience, Bhaskar now wants to found a specialist clinic devoted to the care and treatment of people with conditions that affect connective tissue in the body: 

"There are a small handful in the UK but none at all in Essex, so this would be the first in the area. Diseases such as lupus and sclerosis affect many different parts of the body; including the kidneys, chest and even the brain, so patients often have to see lots of different specialists, at different times, for their one disease.

"This also means that they spend ages trekking round to different departments in the hospital. I hope that this new clinic will be a 'one stop shop,' where the specialists from various departments come together in one place for the patients."

Southend Hospital is recognised nationally and internationally as a centre of excellence for research and work in this area, as said by NHS England, and Professor Dasgupta believes the new clinic will offer additional benefits: "It would also offer additional education to nurses, holistic care, physiotherapy and, of course, give access to the latest treatments - not only those available on the NHS but also drugs undergoing clinical trials."

He added "Clinical trial drugs can have a massive impact on lengthening an individual's life. Pat Hudson was given an extra five years, which meant so much to her and her family. So this clinic could really improve life expectancy for people with a variety of diseases."

With funding now being raised to establish the clinic, the very first donation came from Mrs Hudson's family.

Her 43-year old son, Glen, has already raised over £1,200 and has secured match-funding from his employer, a leading high street bank, that will further boost the total.

Glen, from Canvey Island, said: "Mum was 70 when she died. Before that she was a sales assistant at Marks and Spencer who was very much loved and liked. Over one hundred people came to her funeral, including lots of her old M&S colleagues. The new treatment she was on was amazing and it prolonged her life, without a doubt. It also gave her a much better quality of life. You could even see the wrinkles in her face again," he said referring to the fact that her condition caused the skin to tighten.

"I am delighted what Professor Dasgupta is doing because it will help some good come to out of something so bad. It may be a small donation to begin with but I am pleased to be the one to set the ball rolling".

Mr Hudson added: "The thing about the patient having to go back to the hospital, week after week, for different tests and appointments in different areas, with different people was a real strain on mum and us as a family, so the 'one stop shop' concept is amazing and really will help sufferers and their families."