VTE Champion campaign at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust @LG_NHS

“It is estimated that every 6 seconds a person dies
 from VTE globally, also 1 in 4 deaths are Thrombosis related”

(This sentence takes 6 seconds to read, in that time another life is lost to VTE (DVT and Pulmonary Embolism) it is as simple as that.

As a Trustee of Thrombosis UK, I had been asked to attend Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust. The Trust has initiated an internal campaign called “VTE Champion”. The nurse behind the campaign, Julie Bridges had herself lost a parent to Thrombosis in the 1960’s. The campaign is based within each ward at the Trust, selected nurses and Health Care Assistants are tasked with championing the awareness of Thrombosis amongst their peers and colleagues. With bespoke and focused training the nurses and HCA’s will be the “go to” people on their individual wards and will bring a wealth of awareness, care and treatment to patients who are suffering with a DVT, Pulmonary Embolism.

So it was talk time ……

I had taken with me some of the many things that keep me ticking over. My injections, sharp bucket, INR self-testing equipment and various medications. I laid these out on the table. I talked about my “journey” and how I’d ended up stood there in front of them. The good times, the bad times and the amazingly dark times. The Kübler-Ross model (5 stages of grief)

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Were discussed at length, along with the effect the “journey” had on a wider circle (my wife, family, friends). The result of my survival has been an enormous strain on those that I hold so dear, trying to explain to the nurses and HCA’s that at times I felt like the lucky one, purely and simply because I hadn’t had to see what was happening to someone I loved in the way that they had.

I then went to the bundle of medical goodies on the table. “With the NHS at breaking point financially, I pointed out just how vital their work as VTE Champions will be.

Ignore and don’t diagnose a DVT:

  • Warfarin for life £65,000
  • Pain medication £85,000
  • Injections £220,000
  • INR testing £195,000
  • Prescriptions £56,000


Awareness and diagnose a DVT:

  • D-dimer test £3.50
  • 6 months warfarin £60.00

Not only will the VTE Champions save lives, but save vital finances that will stay within the NHS.

It’s amazing just how fast an hour goes by, the interaction and interest shown by all those who had attended was superb. The questions were insightful and one’s that I know need to be asked, as without the access to real life information all the amazing nurses and HCA’s would be lead by an idea that is sterile and without empathy and real understanding.

Surviving such a condition is only the start of things. The nurses and HCA’s at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust are in daily contact with the patients, their loved ones, friends and colleagues. The relationship between the nursing staff and HCA’s and their patients is crucial and one of the most vital contributions to recovery.

When I left the ICU at Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust, I had a short stay on one of the wards. I had left a secure, safe and trusted environment, where the nursing staff knew me, my condition, my history, and care was given in a professional and caring way. The first time out of the ICU, the nurse who was handing over said “This is Mr Westerman, came in query of Shortness of Breath.”

All the sense of safety, care and trust had vanished in one sentence. Query Shortness of Breath, should have been “resuscitated 3 times on the way to hospital and in the ICU”, the shortness of breath, I guess was technically correct, as I wasn’t breathing….!!

This short, personal and real event, showed the nurses and HCA’s at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, the impact that they have on a patients care, and ultimately their recovery (physical and psychological).

The “VTE Champion” nurses and HCA lead campaign is a wonderful initiative. It will save lives, it will improve patient care, and it will more than likely save money.

I was extremely proud to have represented Thrombosis UK and to have seen first hand exactly what steps Julie Bridges and her team of VTE Champions are taking to help their patients, colleagues and peers in understanding and recognising the signs, symptoms and effect of VTE (DVT and Pulmonary Embolism) throughout the Trust.

Such a simple idea, maybe your hospital should start their own “VTE Champion” campaign.

Do you know the signs of a DVT. Pulmonary Embolism? Find out HERE



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