NSLHD News August 1 2022

Get the latest news from across Northern Sydney Local Health District.


Main story DONATELIFE WEEK CELEBRATIONS DonateLife Week has been celebrated in style to encourage conversations about organ and tissue donation registration. Page 3 Short blurb Read more on Page x


round two of the North foundation grants program Page 7


Our district has received its budget and service agreement for the 2022/23 financial year and I look forward to holding a Budget Broadcast to showcase some of the wellbeing initiatives we have underway to support our staff and also outline some of the exciting projects we look forward to progressing over the coming months. The healthcare system and dedicated healthcare workers have been incredible throughout the pandemic and health staff have gone through a great deal tirelessly providing high- quality care and treatment to our community. A big focus of this year’s NSW Health budget is based around workforce resilience and at NSLHD we are committed to your wellbeing and ensuring our staff get the respite and back-up that is needed. NSLHD has been allocated additional staffing in the budget to support our frontline workers and areas where we have the highest levels of excess leave and overtime are an immediate priority. This will result in almost a hundred full time equivalent staff including nursing, medical, allied health and support staff being added to our workforce over the coming weeks and months.

It has been a difficult time for our hospitals, and the system as a whole, as we manage the latest wave of COVID-19 and the winter flu season. I appreciate this is not easy. I want to acknowledge the incredible efforts of our staff and I assure you that we are exploring all possibilities and progressing a wide range of initiatives so we can provide every support to you. Recruitment processes have been adjusted to support filling vacant positions as quickly as possible and enhanced recruitment campaigns are underway to attract the best staff to come and work at NSLHD and provide the additional support that is needed. As we have done in recent times, we will work closely with you to support you as we respond to this latest wave. You are our greatest priority. As always I thank you for everything you are doing to support each other and our community.

Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District



(Left to right) Cassandra Reid, Jenny Holman, Chief Executive Deb Willcox, Alyce Robinson, Grace Turnbull

The Donatelife week initiative encouraging registrations DonateLife Week celebrations returned to Royal North Shore Hospital to raise awareness around organ and tissue donation. organ and tissue donation. The team did this through something many people have conversations over – coffee.☕️

The NSLHD Donation Specialists team visited cafés around the RNSH campus to stick stickers containing a QR code to register for donation on to cups. Alyce said the week encouraged normalising conversations around organ and tissue donation amongst family and loved ones. “It is a sensitive topic for many families, but it is important to normalise these conversations and encourages everyone to start talking with their family during DonateLife Week,” she said. You can register to be an organ and tissue donor by visiting www.donatelife.gov.au/ register-donor-today.

DonateLife Week is run by the Australian Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority and is took place from 24 July to Sunday 31 July this year. This year focuses on the Great Registration Race, which aims to encourage 100,000 Australians to become registered organ and tissue donors by the end of the DonateLife Week. To raise awareness for DonateLife Week and help drive registration numbers, NSLHD Donation Specialists Cassandra Reid, Jenny Holman, Alyce Robinson and Grace Turnbull got to work to encourage staff, patients and their families to have the conversation about

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Researchers investigate if stem cells can reverse osteoarthritis damage

NSLHD researchers are seeking participants for a large-scale clinical trial pioneering the use of stem cells to treat and potentially cure osteoarthritis. The disease is now one of the leading causes of disability in the world, affecting around three million people in Australia alone. Royal North Shore Hospital rheumatologist Professor David Hunter is leading the two- year trial which is recruiting around 400 participants aged over 40 who have painful osteoarthritis in their knees. Participants will receive three injections over a 12 month period, with researchers assessing levels of pain, physical activity and quality of life throughout the trial. Professor Hunter, a world-leading researcher based at the Kolling Institute, said the team are evaluating whether stems cells can alleviate symptoms, and importantly, modify the underlying disease. “We believe stem cells likely have the capacity to regulate inflammation, and hopefully through that process allow the joint to repair itself,” he said. “What we’re hoping to do is reduce inflammation in a part of the knee joint known as the synovium, and by doing so, reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. “We will also be examining whether the stem cell therapy can slow and even reverse the progression of the disease.” The study follows some small trials which indicated stem cell therapy may reduce

Dr Sarah Robbins from the Osteoarthritis Research Group

inflammation and help the body repair cartilage. These earlier studies found that injecting stem cells into the affected joint not only reduced the pain, but repaired the damage caused by osteoarthritis. “We know there is tremendous interest in stem cell therapy and many products on the market, but to date, there has been no strong evidence to confirm this approach is effective,” he said. “It’s really important that we have high- quality trials like this one to produce the evidence we need around efficacy and safety. “We may then be in a better position to offer those managing the condition a range of treatment options, on top of the existing approach of weight loss and exercise.” Further information about the Sculptor study is available at: www.tinyurl.com/ sculptor-trial If you are interested in joining the trial, email sculptor.trial@sydney.edu.au or call 9463 1855.

Professor David Hunter



The NSLHD Assistive Technology and Seating Service team

The service providing innovative specialised care to clients Computerised manufacturing, rehabilitation robotics and 3D printing are just a few of the tools being used by Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Assistive Technology experience about their individual needs and circumstances, and helping to refine solutions accordingly.”

For John Moxon, the service has given him the means to keep working full-time until he was almost 70 years old, and then to remain independent for many years after that. He first heard about the service 27 years ago when he was having trouble finding a suitable wheelchair cushion. “Over the years, the team has provided advice and support around my wheelchair seating requirements as they have changed with the purchase of different wheelchairs and the changes to my body as I have aged,” John said. The service has also provided John occupational therapy advice regarding commode and shower wheelchair purchases, subsequent modifications to improve the functionality of his wheelchairs, and appropriate cushions for those wheelchairs. “I have always felt valued and welcome, even when my issues are sometimes challenging and require considerable time to resolve,” John said. “All of the staff whom I have met over the years have been highly professional, efficient, and outcomes-focussed. “I have no doubt that the staff at the service have saved me, on numerous occasions, from developing skin breakdown issues that would have led to prolonged hospital stays. “I would recommend the service to all who are eligible to access its services – correct seating and posture can save a person from many months in hospital.”

and Seating Service (AT&S) to optimise and configure technology in support of its clients. The service, headed by Senior Rehabilitation Engineer Iain Brown, is based at Macquarie Hospital and supports clients with spinal cord injuries and other conditions resulting in clients needing a wheelchair for primary mobility. The team works in inpatient, outpatient, community and rural settings across NSW. “AT&S is an interdisciplinary team, which is critical to how the service operates and delivers services to our clients,” Iain said. “We are a clinical service, but the integrated technical expertise enables us to be more effective in the interventions we can offer.” The team includes rehabilitation engineers, specialist seating therapists and three seating technicians. The team is ably supported by two admin officers. The service uses 3D printers to manufacture various technologies, including mounts for drinking systems and communications devices, custom components to enable greater independence, such as enema inserters and custom wheelchair controllers for clients with a spinal cord injury. “The ability to adjust equipment, to modify, and even to fabricate custom components as required to meet clients’ individual needs allows us to be incredibly specific in our client care,” Iain said. “Moreover, our clients are integral contributors in the clinical process, being able to provide direct



BEANIES to help battle BRAIN CANCER Staff across Royal North Shore Hospital donned on their beanies recently to raise awareness of a special cause close to their hearts.

By next year, it is expected the number of people diagnosed with brain cancer will be 653 and it will account for 3.1 per cent of all cancer deaths in NSW. Given the rate of brain cancer deaths in NSW has remained unchanged over the past 10 years, RNSH’s Director of Radiation Oncology and Director of The Brain Cancer Group charity Associate Professor Michael Back

The Brain Cancer Group is a charity set up at RNSH in 2000 by neurosurgeons Drs Raymond Cook and Michael Biggs to improve patient outcomes and work towards finding a cure for the devastating disease.

said staff were keen to get behind the charity and help promote brain cancer awareness and how vital research is to improving patient outcomes. “We are committed to research that aims to improve patient outcomes and to work towards making an impact,” he said. Compared to breast and prostate cancers which have a five year survival rate of 89.4 per cent and 95.2 per cent respectively, brain cancer is 27.7 per cent. If you wish to support the cause, you can find out how to donate by visiting braincancergroup.com.au/ make-a-donation

RNSH staff wearing their Brain Cancer Group beanies

family fundraises and donates Cuddle Cot to RNSH NICU Parents Kyriae and Adam Simpson have donated a Cuddle Cot to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at RNSH after an extensive fundraising effort. Bears of Hope Cuddle Cots are refrigerated

The immense effort raised over $70,000 for Bears of Hope. On top of donating Cuddle Cots to various hospitals, Adam said the funds will be used to provide support, counselling and gift packs for grieving families so they don’t leave the hospital empty handed. “The gift pack contained a bear so when we left the hospital we weren’t leaving empty- handed,” he said.

cots that enable parents to spend an additional 24 hours with a child who has passed away before leaving the hospital. Kyriae and Adam Simpson sadly lost their daughter Poppy during Kyriae’s pregnancy in March 2020. As a tribute to Poppy on what would have been her second birthday, Kyriae and Adam started a fundraiser to help parents and families going through a similar situation. The Simpson’s family initial goal was to raise $6,500 to donate one Cuddle Cot in honour of their daughter, but after a rally of support from community members, Kyriae and Adam had 80 people on board for fundraising. The fundraiser had people coming together in Adam’s gym to undertake a 24 hour cycle. “We had 80 people work in teams of five riding for 24 hours in my gym,” Adam said. “Each rider would ride for 60 minutes before swapping with a team mate. Everyone did 4.48 hours of riding over 24 hours. “Most people slept in the gym or in their cars outside of the gym.”

The Simpson family with the donated Cuddle Cot



The Haematology Department at RNSH

round two of the North foundation grants program Round two of the NSLHD and NORTH Foundation Grants Program is now open, exclusively for NSLHD staff. This grants program is designed to support innovative projects which provide tangible benefits for staff, patients, and the broader community. Last year, the Haematology Department at Royal North Shore received a grant to support them in undergoing FACT accreditation – an international certification which will facilitate access to international cancer clinical trials using novel cell therapies.

Ian also feels that the program is well- designed to support the specific needs of time poor NSLHD staff and is a relatively easy process. “The team at the NORTH Foundation is helpful, and the application process is straightforward,” he said. “We are all looking for new avenues of funding and working with the NORTH Foundation across their many fundraising programs can definitely prove fruitful - I highly recommend the grants program to my colleagues across the district.” The application process for the NSLHD and NORTH Foundation Grants program is quick and easy. All applicants submit an expression of interest using an online form before a select number of applicants will be invited to submit a formal application. These formal applications will then be reviewed by the NORTH Foundation and the funding advisory committee, with grants awarded to the strongest submissions. Expressions of interest close on Friday 12 August at 11.59 pm. To apply, visit the NORTH Foundation Grants Page at bit.ly/NORTHroundtwo.

Dr Ian Kerridge, a haematologist and bone marrow transplant physician at Royal North Shore Hospital says that the NSLHD and NORTH Foundation Grants Program really helped to kickstart the process. “At first, we weren’t aware of the multiple funding avenues available through the NORTH Foundation,” Ian said. “In addition to the funding we received through the NSLHD and NORTH Foundation grants program, we have also been able to work with the NORTH Foundation team to secure additional funding through community fundraising initiatives and working with major donors. This has had a transformative impact on the work we are doing to secure FACT accreditation.”


Share your news and achievements. Contact our team on 9463 1722 or email NSLHD-media@health.nsw.gov.au to submit your news.



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