Norfolk man recovers power of speech

A Norfolk man is celebrating recovering the power of speech thanks to a ground-breaking new surgical technique at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Ronald Wedge, 73, of Stoke Holy Cross, has successfully had his voice restored and is delighted with the results of a surgical procedure that harnesses award-winning technology.

Mr Wedge’s story appears in the Trust’s new annual report for 2004/05 which has just been published and can be read on the Trust’s website here

“My voice just disappeared about a year ago which came as quite a shock,” says Ronald, who also suffers from lung cancer. “ Suddenly the world seemed a very noisy place and I couldn’t be heard, so I just stopped trying to talk.

“The procedure was completely painless and took effect straight away – the only unpleasant bit was the taste of the throat spray. My voice is not quite what it was but there is definitely a big improvement and I can even hold a conversation on the phone.”

His wife Mary says: “We used to run a café and Ronald was always chatting to people, so losing his voice was devastating for him. I had to make all his phone calls and generally ‘be’ his voice.”

The team from ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) are celebrating the success of a new procedure for dealing with throat problems using a flexible endoscope developed in the USA. This new ‘chip on a stick’ technology means that biopsies and some other minor operations can now be carried out under local anaesthetic, without the need for a return visit to hospital for more invasive surgery.

The team has won an award from Health Enterprise East for their innovative work and many patients are benefiting from this one-stop service.  Problems tackled so far include removing fish bones and plum stones from the throat, as well as injecting collagen into the vocal cords to correct voice problems.

ENT surgeon Paul Montgomery explains: “The technology is called ‘chip on a stick’ because it involves an electronic device that allows us to ‘see’ into the oesophagus. We can even do a biopsy – a procedure that would normally involve a more serious operation.

“Although flexible endoscopy is widely used in other specialties, this is the first time we have been able to use the technology in this particular way. TNFLO (trans-nasal flexible laryngo-oesophagoscopy)  is very much the future of ENT and means that patients can be treated in a safer and more efficient manner in future.”

The Trust’s latest annual report outlines the activities and finances of its hospitals and the headline figures for 2004/05 include:

Patients treated

148,288- In-patients and day patients (NNUH & Cromer)
380,868- Out-patients (NNUH & Cromer)
71,272 – A&E patients (NNUH only)
9,080- Minor Injuries Unit patients (Cromer only)
Total – 609,508


The Trust had an annual income of £278 million and achieved a surplus of  £92,000.

Staff (Whole Time Equivalent)

2,038 Nurses and Midwives
1,005 Admin and Estates
800 Scientific, Therapeutic and Technical staff
578 Medical and Dental
104 Support Staff

Thursday 8th of September 2005 03:00:59 PM