Bradford children will be the first in the region to receive a Baggins the Bear when they go into hospital for an operation.
Baggins the Bear, and the story of his hospital journey, is expected to transform the experience of children having surgery in the city by vastly reducing the stress and anxiety of young patients and their parents.
The fictional character was created by Intersurgical – a company which manufactures surgical airway devices – to help relax and distract paediatric patients undergoing surgery with anaesthesia. While the Baggins the Bear concept has previously been adopted by Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital for children undergoing cardiac surgery, it will be rolled out much wider in Bradford for all children undergoing elective surgery.
Thanks to funding provided by Bradford Hospitals’ Charity – the official NHS charity partner of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – all children aged 3-11 who have elective surgery of any kind at Bradford Royal Infirmary will now receive the following:
- A personal letter through the post from Baggins the Bear explaining when and where their operation will take place and what will happen on the day.
- A link to the Baggins the Bear website, where the child can watch an animated film of Baggins going in for his operation, explaining what will happen when the child has their operation.
- When the child arrives in hospital on the day of surgery, they will receive a bag which contains: a Baggins the Bear soft toy, and a booklet with the story of Baggins the Bear having an operation, with fun activities to distract them in hospital.
- A life-size Baggins the Bear will greet children as they arrive at the operating theatre with their parents/guardians, so they can have their photo taken before surgery.
- A Baggins the Bear poster will be displayed in the pre-operating room to distract children as they are given anaesthesia.
- After the operation, they will receive a Baggins the Bear bravery certificate, and they will take their bear and activities home.
Andy Yates, Team Leader at Bronte Theatres at Bradford Royal Infirmary, explained that Bradford Teaching Hospitals was the first Trust in the region to expand the Baggins the Bear hospital journey, supporting children before, during and after surgery. In addition to the product provided by Intersurgical, Bradford theatre staff had the idea of placing a ‘Big Baggins’ outside the operating theatre, they penned letters to young patients in which Baggins introduces himself, and they have had surgical hats designed with bear paw-prints.
“This is a real game changer for our Trust,” said Andy. “We’ve wanted to introduce something like this for years. We all have children ourselves and so we understand how stressful it is when a child is scared and anxious. The parent also becomes very anxious, and we often have to cancel due to a child’s refusal.
“We are very excited to be able to offer this to children and parents because we know it will make a very positive difference to everyone’s experience in hospital.”
Seven-year-old Orlagh Woods was lucky enough to be the first to meet Baggins the Bear in Bradford when she went into hospital for a tonsillectomy. Her mum, Fiona Woods, said: “As a parent, there is nothing worse than seeing your child suffer, which she had done for six years with recurrent tonsillitis.
“The booklet really helped to alleviate her anxieties as she knew more about her surgical journey. The Baggins teddies are also a really good idea as Orlagh is at the age that she wouldn’t have chosen to take one of her own in with her, but was more than happy to take Baggins in because he had come from the hospital. This provided another source of comfort that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. All of these things made a stressful situation much more manageable.”
It is estimated the bears and associated products will cost around £20,000 each year. While they are currently being funded by the Trust’s NHS charity – Bradford Hospitals’ Charity – the project’s success will rely on the generous donations of members of the public if it is to continue.
Hayley Collis, Head of Fundraising for Bradford Hospitals’ Charity, said: “Baggins the Bear is a truly wonderful concept and we applaud our NHS theatre staff for their efforts to make the hospital experience as enjoyable as possible for children.
“Our charity funds over and above what the NHS provides, which is why projects such as this rely on the kindness of grateful patients and the public who want to give something back.
“We are sure Baggins will become a firm favourite here in Bradford for many years to come.”
A spokesperson for Intersurgical said: “In recent years there has been an increased awareness of perioperative stress in children undergoing anaesthesia. It is estimated that 50-75 per cent of children develop significant anxiety before their surgery, which is shown to be consistent regardless of country, procedure or healthcare system.
“We offer a number of paediatric products to assist in distracting and relaxing a child undergoing anaesthesia, which can be identified by the Baggins the Bear design. The Baggins the Bear design is also incorporated into a collection of supporting material that has been developed to help ease children’s journey through their hospital stay and when undergoing anaesthesia.”
If anyone is interested in supporting Baggins the Bear with a donation or fundraising, please visit his donation page at
- A monthly donation of £3 will provide one bear per month to a child.
- A one-off donation of £30 will enable the Trust to supply bears to a ward of children on a typical day of surgery.
For more information about how you can support the Baggins the Bear project, contact the Bradford Hospitals’ Charity office on 01274 274809 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Top: Andy Yates with Baggins the Bear outside Bronte Theatres
Bottom: Orlagh with her Baggins the Bear