The Countess of Wessex visits Essex’s only Fetal Medicine Unit
30 June 2017
Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO visited the Kypros Nicolaides Fetal Medicine Unit at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust on Thursday 29 June.
The unit, the only one of its kind in Essex, is a leading
regional clinical and research centre for the assessment and
treatment of unborn babies.
Around 45 women each month are referred from Southend University
Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for specialist fetal medicine care.
The unit is affiliated with the world renowned Harris Birthright
Unit at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London, run
by Professor Kypros Nicolaides, who the Southend unit is named
Her Royal Highness met local civic dignitaries Councillor Fay
Evans, the Mayor of Southend; Andy Lewis, Acting Chief Executive of
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Sir David Amess, MP for
Alan Tobias OBE, Chairman of Southend University Hospital NHS
Foundation Trust, then presented representatives of the Trust to
Her Royal Highness.
Clare Panniker, Chief Executive of Southend University Hospital
NHS Foundation Trust, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust, Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust said a
few words of welcome and then invited Her Royal Highness to unveil
a plaque to commemorate her visit to the Kypros Nicolaides Fetal
Clare said: "It was a great honour and a privilege to welcome
Her Royal Highness to Southend Hospital. We are incredibly proud of
the Fetal Medicine Unit and are delighted that the Countess was
able to meet some of the families that have benefitted from the
Prior to that Her Royal Highness and The Royal Party took the
opportunity to visit the unit and meet staff and patients, past and
Mr Mandeep Singh, Subspecialist Maternal Fetal Medicine
Consultant, showed Her Royal Highness some of the equipment and
provided a briefing on the services available in the unit,
including 3D still and 4D moving images. The Trust is currently the
only hospital in Essex to offer this 4D service.
Mr Singh said: "We've seen 1,200 new women since the unit
started work and recruited nearly 2,000 women for clinical trials.
Due to the number of women using our unit we've established
ourselves as a leading research department, helping to improve the
lives of women and their babies.
"One recent large research study we took part in aimed to find a
new treatment to prevent development of preeclampsia (high blood
pressure in pregnancy). This has now been published in the leading
research journal, New England Journal of Medicine. We are helping
to make a difference and so are the women of Essex who come and see
us here in Southend."
Her Royal Highness then met some former patients - now parents -
who had taken advantage of the state-of-the-art services offered by
the unit. These included Daisy Taylor, 28, and Adam Taylor, 34,
from Billericay and their six month old son, Noah.
Daisy had a routine scan at 32 weeks that showed there needed to
be further investigation, they were under the care of Southend
Hospital for four weeks and it was discovered that yet to be born
Noah had a blockage in the tubes in his stomach, called Duodenal
Noah was successfully operated on at King's College Hospital and
that was where he was born but the Taylor family couldn't praise
Southend Hospital enough.
Adam said: "Up until then it had been a routine pregnancy and
the news knocked us sideways. It was an incredibly stressful time
but if the Fetal Medicine Unit had not been here for those initial
four weeks it would have meant even more stress travelling up to
"Mr Singh and his team were lifesaving, Southend has this
amazing facility and if we have any more children we would choose
to have them here at Southend Hospital."
Colleen Begg, Clinical Director and Head of Midwifery and
Gynaecology, led Her Royal Highness and her party to the Post Natal
Ward, where they also met patients, and the midwife-led New
Beginnings birthing unit, to look at the facility. Her Royal
Highness was then introduced to a group of key members of staff
comprising consultants, matrons, members of the senior management
team and midwives.
Colleen said: "New Beginnings has provided women with choice and
allows them to give birth in a home from home environment. Research
has shown that women who are able to deliver in such an environment
have a positive experience with better outcomes.
"We encourage as many women as possible to birth in our
midwife-led unit. However some women will need input from an
obstetrician and we have recently upgraded one of the rooms with a
birthing pool in the obstetric unit to ensure choice for all women
using our services."
It was in New Beginnings that Teresa Finn, one of 12
newly-qualified midwives, presented Her Royal Highness with a
Yvonne Blücher, Managing Director of Southend University
Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The Royal visit to the unit
gives Southend University Hospital another chance to showcase some
of the amazing work that takes place here with our dedicated and
passionate staff. The Fetal Medicine Unit continues to expand
its service and we hope to be able to provide it to other hospitals
in the region."
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