Newcastle Bubble Unit loses out on charity donations

A leading consultant at Newcastle's Bubble Unit says top centres for research into childhood illnesses are overlooked as donations go to southern hospital

Peter Benn Professor Andrew Cant, director of the Bubble Unit at the Great North Children's Hospital
Professor Andrew Cant, director of the Bubble Unit at the Great North Children's Hospital

A world-class medic says he is “disappointed” that funding for research into childhood illnesses often goes to a well-known southern hospital – with other leading centres overlooked.

It was announced this week that part of the proceeds from The X Factor’s Christmas single will go to The Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Last night, paediatric consultant Prof Andrew Cant, director of the Bubble Unit at the region’s Great North Children’s Hospital, acknowledged that it was important children’s charities such as the Newcastle-based Bubble Foundation were not forgotten about. He said: “We are always so touched and humbled by the tremendous support that members of the public give to children’s medical charities. There are a number of excellent children’s medical charities around the country, doing work caring for seriously ill children and carrying out vital research.

“We do not wish in any way to denigrate the tremendous work being done in other centres, but we do feel disappointed when we see funds being focused on one centre when there are a number of children’s medical centres doing great research, not least here in the North East at the Great North Children’s Hospital. We are not denigrating Great Ormond Street but it is not the only great hospital. We have the Great North Children’s Hospital and that is great too.”

The Journal last month launched its campaign to raise vital funds to ensure that pioneering research in tackling disorders of the immune system continues. The Bubble Unit, based at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, is one of only two nationally designated services that treats children with little or no immune system. More than 20 years ago, the Bubble Foundation was set up in support of the service, but this is now sadly at serious risk of closure due to a sharp reduction in donations.

As the Bubble Unit is the only one of its kind outside of London’s Great Ormond Street, if this were to happen the impact would be significant. It would mean groundbreaking research into immune system problems would stop and the region could potentially lose leading experts in this field.

The Journal is calling on readers to organise fundraising events or make a donation to the Bubble Foundation to ensure the continuation of the important charity. Whether it’s a sponsored football match or evening of entertainment, you could be joining North East celebrities such as popular TV agony aunt Denise Robertson in support of the charity.

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 previously 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.”

St Oswald’s in Gosforth, Newcastle, is also set to receive a share of the proceeds from the X Factor single which will be released by the act who wins the ITV singing competition next month.This is the sixth year an X Factor single will benefit a charity in the UK. Anita Ball, director of fundraising and retail at St Oswald’s Hospice said: “We are delighted that The X Factor winner’s single is going to make a real difference to children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions and their families.”


David Whetstone
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