Ref. 25743-83BEN FITZGERALD meets the patients and staff who are taking part in a money-making walk to pay for hospital equipment.

STAFF at the Great Western Hospital will be joining former patients for a late summer stroll around Coate Water to raise funds for new equipment.

Money from the sponsored walk will be used to buy four pieces of equipment for the orthopaedic unit at GWH.

Staff who work on the orthopaedic unit hope the one-mile walk on September 7 will raise £12,000.

The money will be used to buy:

An Electrocardiogram heart-monitoring machine. ECG machines create scans from the electric currents generated by the heart which allow doctors to analyse the cardiac health of the patient.

A bladder scanner which can measure urine retention and help identify potential problems following surgery

A suction machine which is commonly used to maintain a clear airway during surgery.

A special chair which is used to examine patients with head injuries.

The equipment will make life easier for orthopaedic patients.

Rachel Palfreeman, 32, senior ward sister on the Falcon orthopaedic ward who will be taking part in the walk, said: "These items of equipment are not essential, but they will make life easier for staff and patients."

Rachel is appealing for former orthopaedic patients to join the walk. She said: "Hopefully people who have been treated here will come along and raise money to give something back." Shorter walks will be available for those unable to complete a mile.

One patient, Florence Heath, 75, of Lambourn, who is recovering from a hip replacement, is determined to be well enough to take part.

She said: "I'm determined to do the walk, and I'm really looking forward to it.

"I have had my right hip replaced, and it has made an awful lot of difference.

"I was in a lot of pain before the operation, but it has just gone now. I'll be doing marathons next."

Also taking part will be Sunny Deo, 36, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon.

Mr Deo, who lives in Lechlade, will be joined by his wife Sarah, 38, and four young children.

He said: "We are hoping as many people will come down on the day to support the hospital.

"This equipment will make patient care better and more efficient."

The walk used to be held every two years in conjunction with the now defunct Wishbone Trust, which supported research into bone and joint surgery.

In 2001, it raised £12,000, which was split between the trust and the Princess Margaret Hospital, which used it help fund research into the treatment of hip fractures in elderly patients.

The mile-long Orthopaedic Spon-sored Walk will be held at Coate Water Country Park at 3pm on September 7, 2003.

Anyone interested in taking part should complete the sponsorship forms on this page.

Forms should be returned to The Great Western Hospital, Fundraising Department, PO Box 80, North Swindon District Centre, Thames-down Drive, Swindon. SN25 4AN.

For further sponsorship forms call (01793) 605635.