An innovative clinical role, only permanently introduced a few years ago at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for the care of children living with life-limiting conditions, is expanding with a further two consultants thanks to business support through children’s charity Molly Ollys.
Birmingham Children’s Hospital will become a training hospital in Paediatric Palliative Medicine. News of the funding, which will double the number of existing roles in the region, came during a special event in Birmingham on Tuesday 17th October hosted by Molly Ollys, which is donating more than £310,000 to cover two years of training, supported by corporate supporters, Oakland International.
Co-Founder and Group CEO of Redditch-based Oakland International, Dean Attwell, said: “Molly Ollys is a truly wonderful charity supporting so many children and their families through such difficult times. The link to Birmingham Children’s Hospital is another example of an under-resourced but much-needed service identified and championed by Molly Ollys and we are delighted to be part of the funding support team.
“It was a pleasure to have attended the launch event in Birmingham with so many other businesses and potential supporters. We were happy to share our experiences of the journey so far and to show other potential sponsors what it means to get involved, both in terms of helping the charity but also as a return on investment for their own businesses. Charitable giving with a positive return on investment? Now there’s a thought!”
The charity, which supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, funded the region’s first ever consultant in paediatric palliative medicine between 2018 and 2021, since when the post has been permanently incorporated by the NHS.
There are currently only 25 such specialists in the UK. Nationally there is a shortage of between fifty to sixty consultants within this specialist Paediatric Palliative Medicine service which helps enable patients to live their best life.
The funding has been particularly welcomed by the hospital’s current Consultants Yifan Liang and Christine Mott.
Yifan said: “With the current consultant numbers, we are only capturing the most needy children and there’s a lot more need that we could be addressing.
“This vital business funding will enable us to provide the capacity to serve families better through planning, clinical reviews and which will be more sustainable for everyone concerned.
“Thanks to Molly Ollys, Oakland International, and other corporate businesses supporting this much needed initiative, we are starting to see change and helping families in the way they want and need for the short and long term, and getting the end results for individuals as we roll it out and help more people.”
Molly Ollys was established following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer and marked its tenth anniversary last year.
The Warwick-based charity supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It helps with emotional support and donates wishes, therapeutic toys and books to children directly and through hospitals across the UK.
Since Molly Ollys started more than £4 million has been raised to emotionally support children across the UK.
Another of the charity’s key NHS projects was the creation and refurbishment of Magnolia House at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. This is a safe and non-clinical space where medical teams and families can have important discussions.
Rachel said: “The need for Consultant-led Paediatric Palliative care is far more important than many realise and primarily that is the case because it is a world that few people fortunately have inhabited.
“From our own experiences with Molly we realised the importance of enabling a good death. Molly had a choice, as parents and her family we had a choice thanks to the support of a consultant in Warwickshire where we live. However, we realised that that care was different down the road in the West Midlands.
“So, Molly Ollys plugged that gap by paying for the first consultant for three years in order to prove the need for the NHS to then take this forward. Once proved Birmingham Children’s Hospital quickly appointed a second consultant with the help of Acorns Hospice. Two consultants meant that BCH could become a training hospital.
“We are therefore delighted that we can continue this project with the funding of training for two more consultants. From zero to four in a seven-year period is a big step change and will have a positive long-term impact for palliative children in the West Midlands and surrounding areas.
She added: “We are extremely proud to be able to support this project but none of it would be possible without the magnificent help of key corporate supporters. Oakland International have been incredible. They have really taken time to listen, to meet health professionals and to understand the significance.”
Oakland and members of BCH were among special guests at an informal drinks evening at a city centre venue, when Rachel provided an overview of how their support is making a real and significant, long-term impact to so many children across the region.
Anyone wishing to donate to Molly Ollys can do so at https://www.mollyolly.co.uk/learn-about-donating/