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South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Joins Forces with Charity Heart Valve Voice and The Royal Photographic Society to Launch National Photography Competition

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with Heart Valve Voice, the UK’s charity for heart valve disease, and The Royal Photographic Society today announced the launch of ‘Patient Portraits: A New You’, a photography competition encouraging keen photographers to capture heartfelt moments in time and convey what life after heart valve disease means to patients. The images captured will help raise awareness of heart valve disease, its prevalence and symptoms and educate audiences that with appropriate treatment, patients can return to a good quality of life.

Heart valve disease is a growing health concern. Approximately 1.5 million people over the age of 65 are currently affected by the condition in the UK, and this figure is expected to rise to 3.3 million by 2056.

However, awareness of heart valve disease is worryingly low; a survey of over 60s, conducted by Heart Valve Voice, revealed that 94% of people do not know what the most common form of the disease, aortic stenosis, is. If diagnosed early, aortic stenosis can be treated effectively by replacing or repairing the diseased valve.

“This photography competition will enable people to highlight the improved quality of life after treatment for heart valve disease patients,” said Wil Woan, Chief Executive, Heart Valve Voice. “Sharing photographs that depict heartfelt moments patients have been able to experience post-treatment will hopefully inspire people to increase their understanding of heart valve disease and the treatment options available.”

The competition invites anyone above the age of 18 to register their interest by submitting five images that convey precious moments in time along with a short written statement about how they would express improved quality of life after treatment for heart valve disease patients through a photographic documentary. Twelve regional entrants will be chosen by an independent selection panel, paired up with a local heart valve disease patient and tasked with photographing and documenting heartfelt moments that show what life after heart valve disease means; through the eyes of the patient.

“Heart valve disease is a common but very treatable condition, says Gemma McCalmont, TAVI Specialist Nurse at The James Cook University Hospital. “Here at James Cook we offer an advanced procedure called TAVI (transcatheter aortic valve implantation) in which a team of specially trained consultants replace a narrowed heart valve without the need for open heart surgery. This means we can offer it to frail and elderly patients who would previously have been considered inoperable. We have now completed more than 500 of these procedures with 60% of patients now going home the next day!

“We are delighted to be supporting this photography competition to raise awareness of this condition and highlight the reality of living a full life after receiving treatment.”

The photographic documentaries will be exhibited at the Houses of Parliament as part of the National Final. The overall winner and regional finalists, will have the chance to have their photographic documentary exhibited at hospital heart clinics across the UK, as part of a road show to celebrate the first European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day.

“Patient Portraits: A New You is an exciting collaboration between photographers and heart valve patients and is an excellent example of how photography can change people’s perceptions of a medical condition.” said Dr Michael Pritchard from The Royal Photographic Society. “We are pleased to be collaborating on this unique photography contest and would encourage anyone interested to get involved and submit an entry.”

For more information on Patient Portraits: A New You and to enter visit www.heartvalvevoice.co.uk before the closing date on 31st January 2018. To join the conversations around the competition online use #NewValveNewMe