Posted on Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 in News.
The University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals have received a generous gift of £5.15 million by fashion retailer George Davies – the largest from an individual in the University’s history – to give hope to patients who face losing a leg because of poor circulation.
The founder of the highly successful high street brands Next (based in Leicestershire), George at Asda and Per Una for Marks & Spencer aims to make a difference for patients who have poor circulation in the leg and to prevent these patients from undergoing an amputation procedure.
The record-breaking gift will be announced at the opening of a new Vascular Limb Salvage Clinic (VaLS) at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester where George Davies will meet academic leaders and clinicians who will showcase the world-leading cardiovascular research taking place in Leicester and tour the new facilities.
Worldwide, every 30 seconds a limb is amputated due to peripheral vascular disease, with a major amputation taking place every two hours in the UK. With thousands of people in the UK affected by peripheral vascular disease and poor circulation, George Davies wanted to bring awareness to a cause that could be prevented with further research.
George Davies, fashion innovator, design guru and retail legend, said: “The work of the George Davies Charitable Trust is extremely close to my heart. We support education and health causes in both the UK and internationally. Our most recent project involves vascular care and poor leg circulation, working with surgeons, doctors, nurses, NHS specialists and researchers in Leicester. The outcome will be to improve communication with patients and to offer open access for patients using the service. This will allow patients to be seen within 24 hours and treated in a matter of days, vastly reducing the need for amputations.”
The gift will fund the George Davies Chair of Vascular Surgery to be held by Professor Rob Sayers and support a clinical and research initiative to investigate different ways to improve outcomes for these patients. It will also establish the Vascular Limb Salvage Clinic (VaLS) to allow a limb salvage team to identify and treat patients with poor leg circulation quickly and prevent amputation.
Professor Sayers, from the University’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and Honorary Consultant Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “This is an enormously generous gift that George Davies has donated and will make a real difference to how our patients are assessed and treated. We will also be able to run a research programme to identify ways to treat people faster and better and thus prevent amputation. Working with George has been fantastic because he likes to get involved in the projects that he supports and bring his own expertise and that of his team to make a real difference.
“Leicester is a centre of excellence for vascular surgery, both clinically and academically, and this translational programme that George Davies is supporting further demonstrates the close collaboration that exists between the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals.”
Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology at the University of Leicester, said: “We are tremendously excited by this extremely generous gift. Funding will allow Leicester’s world-class researchers and clinicians to develop and deliver new treatments and therapies that will benefit patients suffering from peripheral vascular disease locally and nationally.”
The aim of the Vascular Limb Salvage Clinic (VaLS), which will form part of the Vascular Unit at Glenfield Hospital, will be to offer faster, more efficient diagnosis and treatment in the hope of preventing limb loss. It will have a dedicated phone number to be used by patients, GPs, physicians and other healthcare professionals, and patients will be seen by the next day.
They will undergo urgent assessment and investigations including blood tests and scans, such as ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) if required, and a plan for treatment started. This could include urgent balloon treatment or bypass surgery of blocked arteries.
The clinic will have the capability to conduct leg ultrasound scans immediately in the clinic and patients will take advantage of the new hybrid operating theatre, part of the Leicester Hospitals –funded £15 million relocation of the Vascular Unit to Glenfield Hospital from the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Alongside this vital clinical work a research team will be established to investigate new ways to improve outcomes for these patients and prevent amputation, to be led by Professor Sayers. This will include enhancing pre-hospital assessment, the assessment and improvement of frailty and an educational programme to improve the ability of medical students, GPs and junior hospital doctors to recognise poor leg circulation so that patients are referred faster.
The generous gift comes as the University prepares to mark one hundred years since its very first gift was received – a £100 endowment to establish the first university in Leicestershire.
Professor Paul Boyle, President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “We are deeply grateful to Mr Davies not only for his gift but also for his commitment to transforming the lives of those suffering from peripheral vascular disease. It is a testament to the incredible work of our researchers, working with Leicester’s Hospitals, that we have attracted such tremendous support from Mr Davies.”
Mr Bill Friar, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Leicester, said: “As we prepare for our Centenary celebrations, which start in 2018, this tremendously generous gift signals the importance of our future research and also speaks to our legacy as an institution founded on local philanthropy.”
John Adler, Chief Executive at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “We are incredibly grateful for this overwhelming gift from George Davies which will make a huge difference to our patients, their families and our staff.
“This provides us with a great opportunity to improve and enhance an already successful unit as we seek to deliver caring at its best by developing Leicester as a centre of excellence in the country for vascular services.
“The Vascular Limb Salvage Clinic (VaLS) will allow our fantastic limb salvage team to identify and treat patients with poor leg circulation quickly and prevent amputation for as many patients across the region as we can.
“It will also help to bring together the already close ties between our hospitals and the University of Leicester through funding our staff’s vital research work.”