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A short walk is a major step forward for Babs' patients; Babs Gwynne, vascular specialist nurse at Royal Liverpool University Hospital My Dream Job.

Byline: EMMA THOMPSON

LOOKING after patients with leg problems is a dream job for vascular specialist nurse Babs Gwynne.

Based at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Babs' role is to help patients in the early stages of peripheral vascular disease to adopt healthier lifestyles and improve their lives.

The condition, called inter mittent claudication, causes cramp-like feelings in the legs when walking.

With Babs' help, patients are able to walk further, which means they can continue making everyday trips, for instance to work or the shops.

The pains and problems are caused by the narrowing of arteries or other obstructions to blood flow to the feet and legs.

Babs helps patients to reduce the factors which increase the risks of the disease progressing - by lowering cholesterol, stopping smoking, reducing blood pressure and taking up regular exercise.

She said: "I can't help people to run marathons but I can help them to improve their quality of life and their independence.

"I see patients one-to-one and I refer them to our exercise classes, if appropriate, and give advice on diet and lifestyle."

Babs described how one elderly, woman patient told her that she had to stop three times in the short walk of a few hundred yards from her home to nearby shops.

"She lives on her own and the trip to the local shops is important to her, but it was difficult because she had to keep stopping because of the pain in her legs.

"She was embarrassed about it and, as with many patients, she would pretend to be looking in shop windows or checking inside her handbag, when she had to stop.

"But, after coming to our exercise classes, she found she could walk without stopping - and she was absolutely thrilled," said Babs.

Patients are referred by their GPs to the vascular clinic, where they are examined, given a scan if necessary and seen by a doctor.

Then, depending on the results, they may be seen by Babs, who will advise them on the best ways to prevent the disease progressing.

As an expert in wound management, another part of Babs' role involves caring for complex wounds - for instance, after an amputation or a serious leg ulcer.

Some of these patients are seen as outpatients and some may need to be admitted.

Babs helps by advising on the right treatments. One of the options offered is maggot therapy, in which sterile maggots are applied in a pack, in order to clean wounds and help recovery.

Another service provided by Babs and her colleagues is the care of swollen limbs, mainly legs, from different causes.

The treatment given is either compression hosiery - strong, long socks or tight bandaging and rebandaging every couple of days.

Whatever she is doing, Babs is aware that her team is one of the best.

As an advanced centre for vascular services, Royal Liverpool University Hospital staff train colleagues in hospitals and other centres around the region.

"I am very lucky to be part of a great team; all the different disciplines work well together and colleagues and patients often comment on how happy and efficient we are in the vascular unit!"

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DEDICATED: Babs Gwynne, vascular specialist nurse at Royal Liverpool University Hospital
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 2, 2011
Words:539
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