Claire's aim is to make emergency dept less scary for young patients

Claire Thompson, the new play specialist in the emergency department at the West Suffolk Hospital.

Claire Thompson, the new play specialist in the emergency department at the West Suffolk Hospital. - Credit: My WiSH Charity

A new play specialist has been appointed to help make the emergency department less scary for young patients at a Suffolk hospital following a special appeal.

Claire Thompson has taken on the role at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds to make the hospital experience more fun for youngsters and, in turn, potentially prevent future hospital phobia.

Her appointment was initially funded by the Help Your NHS Hospital Covid appeal with cash raised from the My WiSH Charity's #25 appeal paying for a second year.

The My WiSH appeal was launched to mark its 25 years of charitable work with a target of £25,000 being reached after a host of fundraising events and donations.

The final donation came from Claire’s sister, Sarah Bones, who spent 10 months covering 674 miles which was equivalent to walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Jill and Harry Badman hand over a cheque for £9,000 to Claire Thompson,

Jill and Harry Badman hand over a cheque for £9,000 to Claire Thompson, the new play specialist in the emergency department at the West Suffolk Hospital. - Credit: My WiSH Charity


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Ruth Hassall, lead paediatric nurse in the emergency department, said: “In my experience play specialists can make the whole experience of attending the emergency department more positive for children and their families.

“They can support children, families and staff through difficult experiences, make the department less scary and more fun without taking away from the necessary and often unpleasant things we have to do.

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“While the nurses and doctors work to ensure your child is safe and well the play specialist will work to ensure they remember the experience as a positive one, facilitating the work of the other health care professionals and preventing future hospital phobias.

“Even when they are not there the behind the scenes work the play specialists do means their presence is felt 24/7 by both staff and patients.”

The appeal called on people to think of and take part in fundraising ideas involving the number 25.

Those who supported the appeal included Lisa Crook with a My WiSH Readathon; £9,000 was raised by the family of Alex Badman who worked at RAF Mildenhall as operations flight deputy commander 100th Air Refuelling Wing for eight years, who sadly died in February this year; and the Neptune furnishing store in Bury St Edmunds which donated over £6,000, in lieu of its Christmas fayre which couldn’t be held due to the pandemic.

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