Transplant patients spend a long time in hospital, sometimes up to a year, so our NHS colleagues try to make their time on the ward as much a home away from home as possible.

To improve the stay of transplant patients, RCP Chief Registrar Dr Waqas Akhtar conducted a survey of Harefield Hospital’s heart and lung transplant ward. The main finding of this survey was that patients had difficulty accessing everyday essentials. Waqas described these as: "basic things to make you feel a bit more human whilst in hospital."

From the survey, Waqas was able to generate a list of items that patients needed. He then applied to Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity’s Patients’ Fund to provide a service that would provide these items to patients’ beds.

From iPads and physio equipment to comfort packs and camp beds for parents, the Patients’ Fund has provided big and small improvements to many patients’ stay in the hospitals. Anyone who has an idea to help patients can apply to the fund, the projects are then reviewed and the ones that will make the biggest impact go ahead.

Waqas’s project was one of those selected in the most recent round. This led to the creation of the Transplant Care Trolley, which travels around the transplant ward distributing the items that patients need.

Waqas had help delivering the project. Transplant secretary Michelle Parker helped with ordering and payment, whilst Lung Transplant Registrar Anjali Prinja contacted organisations for donations, and Matron Helen Dolye helped facilitate. Senior Sister Kirsty Jarvis, Staff Nurse Helen Stokes and Patient Activity Coordinator Molly Suthers helped organise the trolley. Yolanda Margarit-Borras from ISS leant the trolley that made the service possible. Housekeepers Samantha Lord and Riz Nadeem will be taking the trolley around twice a week.

The trolley had its first run on Monday 10 January and was well received. Items that the trolley provides includes tampons, shower gel, toothpaste, room spray, sleeping aids, activity kits, cross words and sudoku books, charger cables, headphones and mouthwash. All of these are free for the patients. There is also dry shampoo, which the nurses use for the haircare of patients. “This has one of the biggest impacts on their sense of wellbeing," Waqas said.

Having these items can make a real difference to transplant patients who spend a lot of time in hospital. Some have been emergency transferred to Harefield and might not have had time to pick up items such as toothpaste or body spray before coming to hospital. Some have come from as far away as Cornwall and are spending a long time far away from their home.

Many of these patients are stable, which means they can go for walks around the hospital grounds or spend time in Harefield’s Healing or Transplant gardens, but due to their condition they cannot leave the hospital to get these everyday items from local shops. This makes it difficult to lead a normal life whilst in hospital.

The Transplant Care Trolley has been greatly appreciated by patients on the ward. "When we told them what it was everyone was very happy with it," Waqas said. "It takes some worry off their mind, because they already have quite a bit to deal with in hospital."

This December, we are raising funds to support more projects like the Transplant Care Trolley. Donate this month and your gift will be matched.