The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds Children’s Hospital delivers hundreds of extra appointments and trials new technology on Super Saturday

4 March 2022

On Saturday 5 March 2022, Leeds Children’s Hospital joins 9 other children’s hospitals across the country to host a collective Super Saturday event, to boost the recovery of children’s services affected by the pandemic and to spotlight the continuing hard work of NHS staff.

Following the first Super Saturday event in October 2021, this Super Saturday will see Leeds Children’s Hospital staff running extra clinics and additional theatres for patients in order to reduce waiting times for treatments. Staff are also using the day to pilot innovative new ways of working such as virtual reality distraction therapy (VRDT) to improve long-term efficiency, creating faster access to services in Leeds.

Super Saturday activity takes place as part of the National Paediatric Accelerator Programme, an initiative designed to bring together NHS trusts to tackle waiting lists inflated by the impact of the pandemic. Leeds Children’s Hospital joins other leading specialist children’s hospitals including Great Ormond Street, Alder Hey, Birmingham and Manchester Children’s Hospital, following the success of the first Super Saturday event in October 2021.  

Leeds Children’s Hospital is playing a key role in the national event with a focus on innovation and accessibility. Working with colleagues across Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the team plans to deliver over 200 additional outpatient appointments and perform 28 operations on Super Saturday. These initiatives, designed to immediately reduce waiting times for children and young people in Leeds, include additional clinics for asthma, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, gastroenterology and endocrinology.

Innovations designed to improve long term efficiency are also an important part of the day. They include Play Specialist-led workshops supporting children to make the transition from liquid to tablet medicines, Mini-Mouth-Care-Matters dental hygiene workshops, a ‘hospital passport’ for patients with additional needs and an exciting trial of Virtual Reality Distraction Therapy (VRDT).

Research into the application of VRDT at Leeds Children’s Hospital is in partnership with Starlight Children’s Foundation. On Super Saturday patients undergoing minor surgical procedures will be offered VRDT delivered by Play Specialists using cutting edge VR headset technology. VRDT is intended to reduce anxiety and provide distraction - removing the need for a more disruptive general anaesthetic, making the procedure safer and more relaxing for the patient whilst also reducing the length of the hospital stay.

Mohammed Al Tuamah (aged 15) from Leeds is one of the patients who will benefit from VRDT on Super Saturday when he has a surgical procedure to remove an ingrown toenail. Mohammed is pleased to be invited for his procedure so quickly, thanks to extra theatre capacity created by Super Saturday - he’s looking forward to getting back to playing football and basketball as soon as possible. Although nervous about the procedure Mohammed is looking forward to experimenting with VR and because he won’t be under a general anaesthetic his hospital stay will be much shorter. 

Mr Naved Alizai is the surgeon performing the procedure and he explains the benefits of VRTD for patients like Mohammed:

‘By offering procedures under local anaesthetic with the help of Virtual Reality Distraction Therapy, instead of general anaesthesia, we can reduce the patient and parents’ anxiety about a general anaesthetic. It also reduces pressure on the availability of theatre staff and resources needed for a general anaesthetic. This in turn frees up staff such as anaesthetists for other tasks, increasing our efficiency. Also, the length hospital stay for patient’s like Mohammed can be minimised.

Because of Super Saturday, we have been able to expedite the treatment of patients like Mohammed who has a painful condition that requires surgery.’  

Suzanne Abrahams - General Manager for Leeds Children’s Hospital explains the significance of Super Saturday for patients in Leeds:

‘After the success of the first Super Saturday and with the incredibly positive feedback from patients and colleagues, we’re delighted to be running another day of innovation and additional activity which is all about creating improved access to our services for children and young people. We have seized the opportunity to be a part of this national initiative and with our colleagues in specialist children’s hospitals around the country we’re determined to reduce the length of time children have wait for treatment, brought about by the pandemic. The enthusiasm and energy going into initiatives like Super Saturday at Leeds Children’s Hospital makes me feel very proud of all my colleagues here and reassured as a parent in Leeds’