Sheffield Teaching Hospitals scoops regional NHS award

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been named winner of the Yorkshire and Humber NHS Parliamentary Awards Future NHS Award.

By Nik Farah
Wednesday, 10th July 2019, 8:54 pm
Updated Sunday, 14th July 2019, 6:58 pm
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals named regional champions at NHS Parliamentary Awards
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals named regional champions at NHS Parliamentary Awards

The Trust will now represent the region at the national awards ceremony at the House of Commons this month.

The Trust’s AHSCT team - led by consultant neurologist and director of MS research Professor Basil Sharrack, and consultant haematologist and director of the transplantation programme Professor John Snowden – were nominated by MP Clive Betts after pioneering the use of a breakthrough treatment, which is the first to significantly to reverse disability in certain patients with multiple sclerosis.

The treatment, known as autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, has been shown to stabilise the disease and reduce disability in interim trial results.

AHSCT aims to stop the damage caused by multiple sclerosis by first ‘wiping out’ the faulty immune cells, that are causing the MS, with a high dose of chemotherapy. Once destroyed, the faulty immune system is then rebuilt using blood and bone marrow stem cells taken from the patient’s own blood prior to chemotherapy. The regenerating immune system is then effectively ‘rebooted.’ It is this mechanism that allows the inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that causes problems with mobility, balance, cognition and pain, to subside and heal.

So far the treatment has had a life-changing impact on a number of patients who have the relapsing remitting form of the disease, with some now able to walk, run and even dance as a result.

One patient to benefit is Louise Willetts, Rotherham. 36-year-old Louise was diagnosed with MS in 2010 and lived in fear of the next relapse. On the worst occasions she couldn’t even get out of bed due to the fact that she had no stability in her body, and spent time in a wheelchair because she struggled to walk.

However, the results of a follow-up MRI scan taken a year after she had the treatment showed she had no active signs of the disease.

She said: “I feel like my diagnosis was just a bad dream. I live every day as I want to, rather than planning my life around my MS. It feels like a miracle.”