Leeds Children’s Hospital


Joins ReadWell Initiative

The Leeds Children’s Hospital at Leeds General Infirmary has successfully joined the ReadWell initiative, developed in consultation with nursing and education staff to bring the positive power of reading and storytelling to seriously ill children.

Owl men, tame dragons and the Gruffalo are just some of the characters that inpatients in Leeds Children’s Hospital are getting to know better as part of the scheme which sends books and storytellers into UK children’s hospitals.

The charity provides mobile bookcases, custom-made for easy movement in a hospital environment. The distinctive orange bookcases are kept stocked with a mix of old favourites and future classics, chosen by an independent bookseller to meet the specific needs of seriously ill children in hospital. All the books are brand new, which means copies can be enjoyed even by children at high risk of infection (e.g. following chemotherapy). ReadWell also sends in professional storyteller Amanda Smith twice-termly to tell myths, legends, fairy stories and folktales around the wards, beds and classroom of Leeds Children’s Hospital.

ReadWell is part of the children’s reading charity, Readathon and began as a pilot in three children’s hospitals in 2010. It has since been rolled out into 26 children’s hospitals in the UK and aims to reach all 30 of the UK’s major children’s hospitals by the end of this year. Every year, more than 100,000 children are hospitalised with a serious and prolonged illness.

ReadWell Chief Exec, Justine Daniels said: “Books and storytellers are really important when you’re a child stuck in hospital. Your world is getting smaller and smaller, you might be bored, scared and in physical pain. Imagination – stories – are a ticket out of there. They can entertain, distract and take you anywhere in the world.  But how can hospitals get the very best, latest and loveliest books to children when budgets are already stretched? That’s where ReadWell comes in. Reading for pleasure can also help children from falling behind educationally, a real problem if you’re missing a lot of school.”

Judi Efford, Higher Level Teaching Assistant with the Medical Needs Teaching Service based at Leeds Children’s Hospital said: “Sharing a book with a child is one of the loveliest gifts you can give. It is wonderful to find a charity that can help us to provide a stimulating environment for the sick children in our care at a time when a little distraction goes a long way. Children miss out on so many things when they’re in hospital but now, thanks to ReadWell, access to good books isn’t one of them.”


Top Research Accolade For Hospital Doctor

Congratulations to paediatric cancer consultant Dr Bob Phillips, from Leeds Children’s Hospital, who has been named the SPARKS Young Investigator of the Year for his tireless child and adolescent research work.

Presented at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s Annual Conference, the SPARKS award, which is funded by Sport Aiding Medical Research for Kids (SPARKS) recognises excellence in research and is offered once a year to an outstanding young medical research worker in British paediatrics.

From social media delivered medical education to research into dietetics, neuropsychology and childhood cancer, Dr Philips’ research has brought together clinicians and researchers from the UK and overseas.

It has also provided clinicians as well as patients and their families, with information on which to make important healthcare decisions – this has ultimately improved the experience of healthcare for children and their families.

He said: “I was delighted and completely surprised to be given this award. It’s great to see that the science of evidence synthesis, where we take the data from existing research studies and combine it, has been recognised by the College and supported by SPARKS. This sort of research maximises the value of clinical study data, not wasting any of the information which the families, children and research teams involved in these studies have worked so hard to produce.”

As well as winning the accolade for his extensive clinical research, Dr Phillips was singled out for another piece of work which specifically looked at reducing hospital admissions for children with ‘febrile neutropenia’ – a potentially life-threatening condition developed during cancer treatment. He has recently been awarded an NIHR fellowship to build on this important work.

Professor Lesley Stewart, Director of the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York, who nominated Dr Phillips, said: “The research that Dr Phillips undertakes has great potential to impact directly on clinical practice and patient experience. It also has high potential to positively shape the way that health services are configured – an achievement of great importance for child health not only in Yorkshire, but across the rest of the UK and beyond.”


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