Ice Lollies supporting patient wellbeing!

Consultant Anaesthetists, Dr Adam Hancox and Dr James Brunning contacted the ROH Charity in summer 2021 to initiate a new research trial to support the recovery of patients at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) in Birmingham. Their application was granted by the Trustees of the Charity and they proceeded with the trial.

Data from The Royal College of Anaesthetists national audit showed that the most common complaints after surgery were thirst, sore throat and post-op nausea and vomiting (PONV), this trial looks at an innovative way to suppress these symptoms for patients within recovery.

A registrar who worked in Holland trialled giving children ice lollies after their surgery.  When he walked into the recovery department, he discovered kids enjoying ice lollies rather than children in discomfort and crying which is usual for this age group. He was hugely struck by the impact something so small had on their wellbeing.

The ‘ice lolly trial’ as we call it, has been introduced at multiple other medical institutions across the UK. University College London introduced the trial within their Intensive Care Unit to support patients when taking their endotracheal tubes out (plastic breathing pipe into the windpipe that allows mechanical ventilation for sedated patients).


There was also a trial at the Mayo Clinic which looked at children’s attendances at A&E.  If the children were given ice lollies, 70% thought the doctors cared vs 57% without a lolly.

The trial was introduced at The ROH and data was collected from 154 patients.  Half of which were given ice lollies the others were not.  All patients had the same average level of comorbidities, length of surgery and starvation times.

As soon as the patient woke in recovery, the team completed a global wellness score and again on leaving recovery.

The cost of medication given to support the recovery of patients with PONV ranges from £1.52 – £5.99, whereas the cost of an ice lolly roughly 10p.

From the data collected, we can see that there is a slight decrease in the amount of medication given per person to the ice lolly group.

    Data was also collected for these patients around the length of time they stayed within recovery. The group of patients who were given ice lollies were able to leave the ward area 30 minutes prior to those who were not given an ice lolly.

    In summary, it seemed that giving patients an ice lolly reduced their length of stay in recovery, improved their wellness, reduced thirst, sore throat and PONV and potentially saved a small amount of money.

    This was a small project in which ROH Charity funded to support patient wellness. The results were positive and it is something the Trust are looking to implement further.

    “The recovery staff really enjoyed it. It altered their interactions with the patients, and it brought a little bit of fun and an alternative to standard medical treatment for common problems for patients”  Dr James Brunning - Consultant Anaesthetist

    “We would like to say thank you to Dr James Brunning and Dr Adam Hancox for letting us be part of such an innovative and fun research trial that produced really interesting results.” Ali Gray – Charity Manager

    ROH Charity supports small start up research projects like this one all the time to enhance the experience of patients not only at ROH, but across the UK.

    To find out more about how we support research at ROH, visit www.rohcharity.org/ourwork/research/.

    The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Charitable Fund

    Bristol Road South
    Northfield
    Birmingham
    B31 2AP

    Registered Charity Number: 1078046

    Call: 0121 6854379
    Email: roh.charitablefunds@nhs.net

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