From ground-breaking operations to a helipad opening and high-profile visits to a Louis Theroux documentary, here is a selection of stories involving King’s across print, online and broadcast from 2016.
In January, King’s was featured in The Times and a number of other national media outlets. The story focused on the Mitra Spacer, a device used in a world-first procedure by King’s Professor of Cardiac Surgery, Olaf Wendler. The coverage explained that a balloon-shaped device, no bigger than a chili pepper, was implanted into a heart to prevent leakage from valves that had been damaged by heart disease. The heart was then able to recover sufficiently so the patient was able to undergo conventional surgery. 59-year-old Richard Reach, from Yalding in Kent, was the first person in the world to undergo the procedure – he was treated at King’s in June 2015 after suffering a heart attack.
Also in January Professor Kypros Nicolaides, Director of Fetal Medicine at King’s, was the subject of a feature that we secured with The Guardian as part of its long-running, ‘This is the NHS’ series. The article looked at some of the pioneering treatments Professor Nicolaides performs on unborn babies to correct potentially life-threatening conditions.
King’s featured in a documentary in February about a former King’s patient, Simon Binner, who made the decision to end his life in Switzerland, following a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease (MND). The programme followed Mr Binner as he lived with the illness, and it explored the issue of assisted dying. King’s neurologist, Professor Al-Chalabi, commented on MND, and explained the responsibilities of physicians in the UK with regards to the law and assisted dying.
Also in February, the South London Press featured a story about a former King’s patient who was able to celebrate Valentine’s Day thanks to emergency open heart surgery. 26-year-old Murtaza Abbas underwent four hours’ of emergency open heart surgery, after being diagnosed with endocarditis. His partner, Katy Jackson, decided to run the London Marathon to raise money for the cardiac unit.
In March, there was coverage in the Evening Standard featuring Ms Serpil Djemal, Consultant in Restorative Dentistry at King’s, in a piece about educating the public on saving their teeth should they be damaged as a result of trauma. Ms Djemal, who is also the founder of charity Dental Trauma UK, gave expert comment in the piece.
Also in March, a new three-part documentary series called Employable Me was broadcast and in the first episode King’s Consultant Neurologist, Dr Davide Martino, gave expert comment on Tourette’s syndrome. The episode showed Dr Martino working with 52-year-old Paul, who developed a severe case of Tourette’s syndrome which left him with constant involuntary tics, including violent body jerks. Despite the extreme nature of his condition, Paul was desperate to find employment and, with the help of leading scientists, Paul uncovered talents that could allow him to work again.
There was extensive coverage of King’s in the run-up to the broadcast of Louis Theroux: Drinking to Oblivion on Sunday 24 April, on BBC2.
The programme showed Louis Theroux spending time with our liver, medical and ED teams, meeting patients struggling with excessive alcohol consumption, and alcohol addiction. Louis also met and interviewed King’s staff who have the difficult and sometimes impossible task of helping patients manage their relationship with alcohol, and the social/psychological issues that come with it. Viewing figures for the documentary were impressive, with a total of 2.4 million people watching the programme.
Also in April, King's Consultant Trauma Surgeon, Duncan Bew, was interviewed as part of a video news report about knife crime. The video focused on the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Myron Yarde in New Cross on 3 April. Myron was brought to King’s but sadly died of his injuries. In the video, Duncan discussed in general terms about how frequently patients with penetrative injuries from a knife or other weapon are seen in the Emergency Department, and the rise in numbers the team have seen in recent years.
The Evening Standard reported that Sir Elton John and David Furnish visited our Denmark Hill site in May on behalf of the Elton John AIDS Foundation to launch a proactive HIV blood testing initiative. As result of an ongoing partnership between the charitable Foundation and King's, the testing programme aims to significantly decrease late diagnosis rates in Lambeth and Southwark, which are areas currently recognised as having the highest HIV prevalence rates in the UK.
Also in May King’s was referenced in an article in the Evening Standard about violent crime in London. The article looks at data collected from hospital Emergency Departments in London, revealing so-called ‘dramatic’ new hotspots of violent crime in the capital.
In May, the Evening Standard featured an article about the research of Professor Francesco Rubino, Consultant Surgeon at King’s College Hospital, which showed metabolic surgery as an effective treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes. There was extensive national and international reporting on the study, including coverage on Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News, BBC Online and ITV News.
In June there was coverage of a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) clinical trial based in Canada that uses stem cell transplants to treat patients. Dr Eli Silber, Consultant Neurologist at King’s, was interviewed by ITV News and BBC Radio 4 about the impact this has for people with severe symptoms of MS.
There was also coverage of the King’s abseil in the South London Press. Steph and Dom Parker, from Channel 4’s Gogglebox, supported the hospital by taking part in the abseil. The couple’s 15-year-old son, Max, is treated at King’s for epilepsy.
Also in June, King’s featured in the Daily Mail about 3D technology that can be used during heart bypass surgery. Mr Ranjit Deshpande, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at King’s, described in the article how the technology is used.
Additionally the Daily Mail reported on a new procedure being carried out at King’s that uses high speed pressure waves to break down calcium in a person’s coronary arteries prior to stent insertion. Roger Holmes, the first patient in Europe to undergo the procedure, and Dr Jonathan Hill, consultant interventional cardiologist at King’s, were featured in the article.
There was extensive press coverage in July of Prince Harry’s visit to King’s. Harry visited specialists to speak about their work in diagnosing and treating people with HIV. As well as in the Daily Mail, the visit was covered in The International Business Times, People Magazine, Women's Day, the Herald Scotland and the Southwark News.
King’s also featured in the Daily Mail’s ‘Me & My Operation’. Stephen Lee, 71, had surgery at King’s using a laser to dissolve part of his enlarged prostate. Dr Christian Brown, a Consultant Urologist at King’s, explained in the piece why an enlarged prostate can be a problem and how the GreenLight XPS laser works.
Kypros Nicolaides, Professor of Fetal Medicine at King’s, appeared on Sunday Morning Live in August, commenting on non-invasive pre-natal screening tests for Down’s syndrome.
Also in August, Dr Irem Patel, Consultant Respiratory Physician at King’s, was interviewed for BBC London News about the prescribing of oxygen to people who smoke, following new guidance from the London Clinic Oxygen Network.
In September there was coverage on BBC Newsbeat about a new service for Diabulimia at King’s. Diabulimia is a term used to describe patients with diabetes who deliberately take too little insulin in order to lose weight. The service is the first of its type in the UK.
The Southwark News covered a story about King’s scientists revealing they are working on the world’s first vaccine that could help prevent leukaemia from returning. King’s doctors behind the vaccine, including Professor Ghulam Mufti, Head of Haematological Medicine, created a short film to explain the work they are doing. The video was produced by the Lions International Blood Research Appeal (LIBRA).
Dr Emer Sutherland, Clinical Lead for the Emergency Department at Denmark Hill, was interviewed for BBC London News in September, as part of a report on the 20% increase in knife crime in London during the last four years. Dr Sutherland spoke about the number of youth violence victims that she and the team in ED treat on a daily basis, the types of injuries they see, and the fact that around two patients a week are under the age of 16.
A BBC2 documentary, ‘A world without Down’s syndrome?’ was broadcast in October. The documentary looked at Down’s syndrome and the ethics of pregnancy screening. The programme featured an interview with Kypros Nicolaides, Professor of Fetal Medicine at King’s, who discussed the cell-free DNA test, which he pioneered. He also talks about the screening currently available on the NHS. In the interview, Professor Nicolaides talked about the risks of more invasive testing and how the cell-free DNA test can offer families a more accurate test with fewer risks.
King’s featured on the BBC again in October, on Inside Out’s Diabetes Special. The programme featured an interview with Professor Francesco Rubino, Consultant Bariatric and Metabolic Surgeon, who has carried out research into the use of metabolic surgery to treat Type 2 diabetes. The programme also featured two King’s patients, David Benge and Barbara Gratton, who have both had the surgery. David’s surgery was filmed and featured in the programme.
The launch of the helipad at Denmark Hill on 26 October was covered in the Evening Standard. The launch was also covered in The Southwark News, the Kent Online, and London Live. The new helipad will save thousands of lives, helping the hospital serve its trauma population of 4.5 million people across south east London and Kent.
In November there was coverage of the opening of the Alex Mowat Paediatric Research Laboratories (MowatLabs) in the Southwark News. King’s has the only joint paediatric and adult liver facility in the world, and is home to the world’s largest children’s liver unit, treating over 3,000 young patients a year.
Professor Ray Chaudhuri, a King’s Consultant in Neurosciences, was mentioned in a piece in the Daily Mail in December about light therapy helping some patients with Parkinson’s disease who experience insomnia. In 2002, Professor Chaudhuri developed the Parkinson’s disease Sleep Scale (PDSS) for doctors to evaluate the frequency and specific nature of individual patient’s problems to help treat them.
Also in December, the Southwark News published a story about a twiddle mitt initiative that was launched at King’s. Twiddle mitts are simple knitted cuffs that a range of items - including ribbons, buttons or beads can be sewn to - to provide activity for patients with dementia. They are colourful multi-sensory distractions that help keep restless hands occupied and cold hands warm.
Thank you to everyone – staff, patients, and friends of the Trust – who have shared their good news stories. We always want to hear about your experience of King’s, so if you have a good news story to share, please do get in touch.