Global IT Outage Update

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Today's global IT outage affected many organisations including ours but to put it into context, this outage affected less than a third of our patients.


Our staff worked tirelessly to deliver as many chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments as possible and continue to finalise plans for those we were unable to see today due to issues affecting our supplier.


Thank you for being understanding and bearing with us. Unless our teams contact you, please attend for your appointment as planned.


We continue to work with our supplier to resolve this issue and prioritise our most clinically urgent patients. We apologise for any delays that have occurred as a result of this.


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The Christie is the first hospital in the UK to use VR distraction therapy for children having radiotherapy

Press release posted 17 June 2024

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, a specialist cancer centre in Manchester, is the first hospital in the country to use virtual reality as a distraction therapy for children and young people having radiotherapy.

It’s part of a 2-year project to see if using VR can reduce anxiety related to cancer treatment. The headset – which is classed as a grade 1 medical device and has been specifically designed for children and young people aged between 7 and 16 – has been used over 20 times so far.

The team is using it with patients when they’re having clinical procedures including cannulation, injections, blood tests and dressing changes, as well as with those having radiotherapy or proton beam therapy treatment for cancers other than brain tumours (as these patients have to wear a mask over their faces).

The team is collecting data to better understand the difference the distraction therapy is making to the patient’s journey. Before having treatment, the child chooses from a sliding scale of face emojis, each associated with a word describing how they feel. The first face on the scale represents ‘happy’ with the last representing ‘scared.’ They then ask again after the procedure and use of the headset and compare the difference.

Isla Gault wearing the VR distraction therapy
Caption: Isla Gault wearing the VR distraction therapy

The project only started back in March, but the data the team has been collecting so far has been encouraging, with patients reporting a 45% reduction in anxiety after using the device.

“Improving cancer treatment is also about improving children’s experience whilst having treatment. The VR distraction therapy is an example of how we can make children’s journey through cancer treatment a more positive one,” comments Dr Shermaine Pan, one of the consultants that looks after children having radiotherapy at The Christie.

The project is being delivered by the team of health play specialists at The Christie. They use therapeutic and specialised play techniques to prepare children for treatment, working closely with their nursing and clinical oncology teams to advocate for them and make sure they’re supported.

“We want to ensure that children and young people have the best experience while they’re with us. We’re with them from their first appointment and tailor our approach to meet their individual needs,” comments Penelope Hart-Spencer, the play specialist leading the project. “We’ve had situations where patients can continue with treatment because of the VR. We’re excited about the potential of this technology.” 

“I was enjoying the VR so much that I didn’t even feel the needle.”

Isla Gault is 10 and lives in Ballymoney, County Antrim with her mum (Hilary), Dad (Steven) and older sister Katie, who’s 12.

She was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma in February last year when she was just 9. Medulloblastomas are cancerous brain tumours that start in the back part of the brain responsible for co-ordination and balance. Symptoms include headaches, double vision, nausea and vomiting.  They’re the most common cancerous brain tumour in children, making up around 20% of diagnoses.

Isla didn’t have many symptoms in the run-up to her diagnosis. She is a keen Irish dancer and had been dancing at a local festival the day she was diagnosed. She woke up in the middle of the night complaining of a serious headache and had to be rushed to hospital after she collapsed.

She had a scan which revealed that her tumour had caused her to have a brain haemorrhage. She had to have emergency surgery to drain the fluid, followed by a 9-hour operation a couple of days later to remove the tumour.

The operation was successful, with surgeons only unable to remove a small part of the tumour that was too close to very important structures in the brain.

As a result, Isla was referred to The Christie for 30 sessions of proton beam therapy, a type of radiotherapy, to try and prevent the cancer from coming back. She has now finished this part of her treatment and is back at home where she will also have chemotherapy.

People with cancer have regular blood tests before treatment, and having blood taken is when Isla used the VR. 

“I really liked the VR as one of the video choices was ‘under the sea.’ I liked seeing all the animals and it made me forget what was happening to me, I didn’t even feel the needle going in when they took my blood.” 

“The VR headset is just one of the ways the team made Isla feel as comfortable as possible while she was having treatment at The Christie. Her wellbeing was at the centre of everything,” comments Hilary Gault, Isla’s mum. “Before I came over, I was so worried about what it was going to be like, but they put us both at ease straight away. I can’t thank them enough.”

Last updated: June 2024