A biomedical scientist from Western Sussex NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust is the overall winner of the UK-wide Advancing Healthcare awards programme. Malcolm Robinson won the award for co-founding a charity called Harvey’s Gang which gives children laboratory tours so they can understand what happens to their blood samples.
The charity was inspired by Harvey Buster Baldwin, who passed away on 6 October 2014. Harvey became ill with acute myeloid leukaemia when he was six. Whilst in hospital he was curious about where his blood samples were going so the children’s ward arranged for Harvey to visit the laboratories. Malcolm gave him the tour, finding him a lab coat, a goody bag and making him a cardboard security badge with ‘trainee biomedical scientist’ written on it.
When a consultant paediatrician told Malcolm that seven more critically ill children also wanted a tour, Malcolm got to work. He set about organising goody bags, certificates, realistic security passes and even child-sized lab coats. Within two weeks Harvey’s Gang was launched and the first tour took place 11 days after Harvey’s funeral.
Formed just three years ago, the scheme is now in 50 trusts across the UK, with many more in the pipeline. So far, at least 200 children have had a Harvey’s Gang tour, with many more already planned for 2018. Malcolm’s work not only informs young patients, helping many overcome needle phobias, but has also changed the lives of his co-workers across the profession, bringing down the walls of the laboratories and helping staff to connect with patients.
Malcolm was also the winner of The Biomedical Scientist of the Year award, one of 14 categories in the awards programme. The judges commented: “This is an inspirational project that works as an advocate for both patients and professionals in the use of science.”
The Advancing Healthcare awards programme, which crosses boundaries and fosters partnership working, is open to allied health professionals, healthcare scientists and those who work alongside them in support roles. The award was presented by Lisa Manze, Group Laboratory Operations Manager of the award sponsor Health Services Laboratories at a celebration lunch on 20 April 2018 at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel in London.
To read more about the day please click here.