Ever wondered what it’s like to be a Consultant at St Michael’s Neonatal Intensive Care?
Day in and day out he cares for premature babies born as early 23 weeks as part of a team of dedicated nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals. We caught up with him to hear what he had to say about the amazing NICU team as well as his favourite thing about Bristol!
Briefly, what’s your main part of your role, day to day?
I am a Consultant in St Michael’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). As a specialist referral centre, our hospital treats over 800 babies each year from all across Bristol, the South West and South Wales. Every day, I work with a team of dedicated nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals to care for premature babies born as early as 23 weeks, to those requiring life-saving treatment and care when they are born at full-term.
Why did you want to be in this department of the health service?
I have loved looking after children from the early stages of medical school. This developed into a desire to be a specialist in neonatal medicine from 1993 when I was working in an Australian neonatal unit.
What’s your favourite bit of the job?
It’s wonderful to meet families who have been through our unit, listen and learn from their experiences. I enjoy being part of a great team doing a really worthy job.
What one thing might we not know about your department?
We get through a lot of cake!
Why is it important that Cots for Tots supports NICU and its patients/parents?
Cots for Tots, which is part of The Grand Appeal, has provided vital support to our service for many years. The charity has donated some of the most pioneering medical equipment to the unit and the transport team that helps us do our job. I would say the biggest difference has been Cots for Tots House, the family accommodation that is run by the charity. Our unit has a huge catchment area, including much of the South West and Wales, which often means that families have to travel far from home for their baby to be treated here. Cots for Tots House is just minutes from the unit and provides free accommodation 365 days a year for all family members who need to stay close to their sick baby. It’s had such a positive impact for so many of our patients’ parents and families since it opened six years ago.
Which Gromit Unleashed 2 sculpture has been your favourite and why?
Prima Featherina – because it is raising money exclusively for our unit, and is generously supported by Marriott Royal Hotel. It drew a huge crowd of fairies this summer in Bristol’s largest fairy gathering – the costumes even rivalled my pink tutu from our 2017 Wrong Trousers Day fundraiser!
Are there any interesting projects going on in the department at the moment, or any exciting developments?
We are always developing ways to have parents more involved in their babies’ care, and improving babies’ care with the best quality research. For example, Cots for Tots recently funded the use of vCreate in the unit. This is a secure video messaging service that our nurses can use to record and send video updates of their special care babies to parents and family while they’re away from the unit, minimising separation anxiety and stress. As well as pioneering research and equipment, it’s the little things like this that can make the biggest difference to families going through an incredibly tough time.
What is your department’s current goal? What improvement would you most like to see?
To be a shining star of excellence in all aspects of neonatal medicine in our families and peers view. Ultimately, the goal is always to create a better environment for our families in and outside our unit.
If you weren’t in healthcare, what might you be doing?
Haha – anything that allowed me to earn a living that supported my family!
Surprise us with a fact about yourself
Tai Chi Chen style short form – learning it; I also love cooking – ‘Poulet Robert’ is a firm family favourite. It’ll take more than that to get my secret ingredient though!
Favourite thing about Bristol?
It is such an open and welcoming city – we are lucky to have so many beautiful places on our doorstep.