Television agony aunt Denise Robertson has backed The Journal’s appeal to save an under-threat North East children’s unit.
Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary’s Bubble Unit specialises in treating youngsters with little or no immune system and carries out pioneering research.
It is one of two units in the country - the other being at Great Ormond Street - but its future is now in doubt.
Donations to the Bubble Foundation, the charity which supports the unit, are drying up in tough times and it is feared it will be forced to close.
Denise, who is president of The Bubble Foundation, says the unit is an asset to the region and must be salvaged for future generations.
She said: “Because of the intensive research funded by the foundation and the expertise of the medical and nursing teams, the unit was recently declared one of the three best of its kind in Europe, the only British unit on that list. This means it has outstripped Britain’s other Bubble Unit, which is situated in Great Ormond Street.
“It takes children north of a line through Birmingham, from Scotland and Northern Ireland and has a contract with the Irish Republic to take their immune-deficient children. 35% of patients are of Asian-British extraction, 25% Irish and 40% other. All research and the care of the parents, who stay with their children, is dependent on fundraising and not supported by the NHS.”
Denise adds that in spite of the unit’s clinical success it has not gained one major donor to support its work and the Newcastle site now needs a unit for parents who come from across the north for their child’s treatment.
She said: “The Great North Children’s Hospital has been able to treat nine children, including a patient referred from Great Ormond Street. As a consequence the unit is the leading centre in the UK for delivering this treatment and is involved in producing national guidelines for further treatment.
“Thanks to the support of the charity, children’s lives have been transformed and saved in a way that would not previously have been possible.
“Professor Andrew Cant has clinics all round Britain and in Ireland and travels the world imparting the knowledge gained from research done here in Newcastle. And yet the Foundation is forced to meet regularly to discuss whether or not it can continue that research. Administration costs are kept to a minimum, the Foundation has only one paid employee. It is supported by unpaid trustees and volunteers.”
Yesterday, one of the first fundraisers got under way at The Cluny in Newcastle’s Ouseburn with a charity gig by the band the Smokin Spitfires.
“We’re urging as many people as possible to support the Bubble Foundation, added Denise. “Whether it be a sponsored bike ride or fundraising night, we’re calling on our readers to dig deep and help raise vital funds for the charity.”
To donate, make a cheque payable to Bubble Foundation UK and send it to: Ward 3, Great North Children’s Hospital, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle, NE1 4LP. For more information about the charity visit: Website: www.bubblefoundation.org.uk and link in to their justgiving page
If your doing a fundraising event for the Bubble Foundation, or have used the unit email our Health Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org