It takes thousands of amazing staff to help treat and care for patients at UHNM. Some of them got to feature on TV as part of the latest series of Critical Condition and some of them didn't – but it doesn't matter, they're all stars to us.
From Neurology to Cardiology (that's head to heart, for the non-clinical amongst us!) they work across lots of different specialties to keep patients safe and well cared for.
To find out why our staff love their jobs, click on the profiles and get to know them a bit better. Some of the clinicians and teams listed were on the programme and some work in similar key roles and areas.
The Cardiac Assessment Nursing team at Royal Stoke University Hospital provides 24-hour cardiac support to the hospital's A&E department, providing a cardiology opinion to around 500 patients a month, the majority of which are seen within 30 minutes of referral, and facilitates the management of a further 400 referrals a month from ambulance crews, wards and other hospitals.
This team of experienced and specially trained, advanced cardiac practitioners deliver a prompt decision-making service to patients presenting to either the emergency portals or to outpatients clinics with a wide array of cardiac symptoms. In the past, patients attending A&E with suspected cardiac problems used to remain in hospital waiting to be seen by a specialist, via admission to the medical assessment unit or referred to a rapid access clinic if further investigation was required.
At Royal Stoke, patients presenting with a cardiac problem are referred to the team, who undertake a thorough clinical assessment and formulate a management plan including diagnosis, initiation of appropriate treatment and/or arrange further cardiac investigations either as an outpatient or through direct admission to the cardiology bed base. The 24 hour / 7 day a week service allows prompt access to a specialist cardiology opinion, reducing patient admissions and reducing outpatient waiting lists. It is estimated this saves the equivalent of six bed days every day for the Trust.
As well as undertaking vital rapid assessment and management decisions about acutely ill patients, the team of ten nurses can talk to patients who aren't admitted about their symptoms, offer reassurance, discuss lifestyle advice where necessary, refer patients for outpatient tests, arrange follow up and inform their GP of the plan directly via letter.
Team lead Dot Morgan-Smith said: "Our senior cardiac nurses have an average of 15 years' experience. To prepare for this role we also trained for a minimum of three years, including general health assessments, independent prescribing, and studying for a postgraduate diploma/MSc in cardiology."
As well as being on-hand to assess in Royal Stoke's busy A&E department, the team also run the rapid access chest pain service, and several arrhythmia and general cardiology clinics providing prompt outpatient assessment and investigation, to diagnose and manage a range of Cardiological presentations. The team also provide a Monday to Friday Advanced Cardiac Practitioner service to the cardiology wards, supporting the junior medical staff to facilitate inpatient diagnostics and making autonomous decisions on patient discharge to facilitate patient flow across the bed base. The on call 'twilight shift' across the 68 beds after 1600 is supported by a junior doctor and a practitioner.
The Cardiac Assessment Nursing team won the British Heart Foundation Alliance Team of the Year in 2017 and also scooped the British Medical Journal Cardiology Team of the Year in the same year.
Claire Rae works on the Acute Rehabilitation Trauma Unit (ARTU) as a speech and language therapist and forms part of a team of therapists looking after trauma patients, who have multiple and complex injuries often including brain and spinal injuries, who come either directly from A&E, or through critical care or other trauma wards.
She works with patients to get them eating, drinking and communicating again. Here she talks more about the role of a speech and language therapist and working as part of a multi-disciplinary team including physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
"Communication is so key to everyday life I wanted to do a job where I could make a difference to people who couldn't communicate easily. It wasn't until I went to university I really realised how much we do with swallowing disorders but it makes sense – it's all the same anatomy you use. Eating and drinking is just as important to everyday life!
"I particularly love working in neuro -rehab. Our patients have experienced a sudden dramatic change in their abilities and how their future looks from their brain injury, and I want to be a part of helping them and their families make the best recovery they can, and get back to the things in life they want to be doing.
"I realised early on in my career that I thrive best in the busy team environment of an acute ward – so ARTU is my perfect combination really!
"My favourite thing is without doubt when we find a way for someone to communicate with us again. When we've introduced a communication aid that enables the patient to tell us they want Planet Rock not Radio 1 on the radio, or that they just want quiet, or gives them the chance to joke with us – that's what makes me tick.
"I worked with a gentleman who came to us unable to move anything voluntarily – not his jaw, not any of the muscles in his face, not his limbs. His partner was not sure if he recognised her at all as there didn't seem to be any response to her. We started working with him to get some movement in his mouth and face, so we could start thinking about swallowing his saliva, communicating and getting the breathing tube out, and then a few days later his partner thanked me because he'd tried to kiss her back when she arrived, and she knew he knew who she was now. That one made me a bit teary eyed!
"I am also frequently inspired by the determination and grit of our patients in such difficult circumstances. We have goal planning meetings with patients and families to set the goals they are working on in rehab. I love it when they come to us after a week to say they've already smashed the goal we were aiming to achieve in 4 weeks! It's great as people improve to start getting to know their character and who they really are, rather than just knowing about their injuries.
"My least favourite part is also the admin and the stats – it's important to be able to evidence what we do for funding but it's not the fun part."
I am originally from Manchester, but moved to Stoke in 2004 to start my Medical Degree at Keele University as one of the first students to be wholly taught and examined by them. Since graduating in 2009 I have worked around the West Midlands and in North Wales.
When I started medical school, my interests were based around resuscitation and caring for the sickest patients, which led me to develop an interest in Anaesthesia, as we work across a wide range of areas, looking after those having elective surgery and those needing intensive care support. My interests have now led me to focus more on paediatric anaesthesia and major trauma/resuscitation such as that seen in Critical Condition.
As an anaesthetist at RSUH, my job is one of the most varied in the hospital. Over a 12-hour shift I can anaesthetise anyone from a woman for Caesarean section, a bleed on the brain, a ruptured aneurysm or someone needing an abscess drain. The variety is one of the best parts of my job, combined with the satisfaction of being able to see rapid results from the things we do for patients under our care in theatre.
Bizarrely though, if we do our job well, very few of our patients or their relatives will ever even remember who we are! Over the past 15 years I have seen RSUH and medicine in general change rapidly. We are growing busier day-to-day, with new treatments being developed continuously. Anaesthetists are part of many of these developments and our skills are used to keep patients stable and safe throughout their procedures. We are always there in the background, keeping things going.
UHNM Clinical Lead for Emergency Medicine Chris Pickering studied at Jesus College Cambridge for three years before moving to London to complete his studies. A former pupil at Haileyberry College, he moved to the West Midlands in 2011, working in a number of the region's hospitals before settling at the Royal Stoke.
He said: "I went into emergency medicine as I enjoyed it while working at Northwick Park in London and was encouraged to pursue it as a career. I particularly enjoy the teamwork and sense of family that facing constant pressures gives you. I think it is the people I work with that make the job so much fun while often dealing with misfortune and tragedy.
"I came to Stoke as a trainee and found the department incredibly supportive. From the consultants through to the domestics, everyone looks out for each other and the whole place felt like somewhere I wanted to come back to.
"Working in Emergency Medicine can be incredibly varied and no two days are ever the same. I have seen new life and death; incredible joy and heartache. Two most two memorable experiences were helping organise a wedding for a terminally ill patient so that he and his wife could finally say 'I do'. We managed to organise the whole thing including food, music, a venue and the official bits in a little over four hours. It was absolutely magical.
"The second was a young, heavily pregnant lady who was transferred from another hospital with an acute stroke. It was the weekend and the theatre staff were busy with another case. We managed to get all the staff in, even those not on call, to come and open another theatre so that she could get the thrombectomy she needed. The procedure was a success and she left hospital with no residual effects of the stroke. She then safely and naturally delivered her child.
"I have had many more cases that have touched my colleagues and I but both these cases really highlight our team effort and how interdependent the whole hospital is on goodwill and its fantastic staff.
"Every day we come to work to do the best for whoever comes in through our doors. Sometimes our best doesn't save a life or doesn't solve the problem but sometimes it is enough and the patient survives.
"The highest points are always the patients who have arrived in the most serious condition that leave hospital alive. I have been lucky to be involved in a couple of fantastic team efforts where a patient who arrived in cardiac arrest has left hospital independently.
"The lows are always the bad news, telling a family that they have lost a loved one is never easy and is something I do with a heavy heart.
"I will always support the team that have sometimes worked for hours to try and save a life, giving everything physically and emotionally."
Aside from treating patients with life threatening injuries Chris is also involved in the work of the wider hospital having helped establish the sepsis team and is active in training Emergency Medicine Trainees across the West Midlands.
He is passionate about resuscitation and the ability for it to be done well, instructing on courses teaching others how to manage a cardiac arrest and how to run trauma scenarios.
On completing his medical training in India, Dr Girish Muddegowda, UHNM Deputy Stroke Lead, immigrated to UK in 2004 for further postgraduate training.
He says: "I was interested in acute neurology and decided to pursue my interest in the field of neurovascular science. I spent my initial training days in the Black Country area focussing on acute stroke care. I was an active member in a 24/7 thrombolysis team where I gained much of my acute stroke care experience and then moved on to different hospitals across the Midlands gaining more experience in the field of stroke medicine.
"I did my fellowship in hyperacute stroke care at UHNM and joined the consultant team here in 2015. I am the lead for clinical governance for stroke and lead the hyperacute stroke service at Leighton Hospital. I have a special interest in endovascular treatment for hyperacute strokes and also haemorrhagic strokes."
I grew up in a working class estate with my parents and my brother who had severe learning difficulties. Through this background I have experienced the social care and healthcare systems from the side of the service user and this has given me some insight into how my patients experience our services and how bewildering they can be if you are not familiar with how they work.
My parents taught me that anyone can achieve regardless of background if you work hard and apply yourself, and they gave me the opportunity to study medicine. I was lucky, as in those days we received a grant and fees were free, but still I believe the opportunities are there with the right support for everyone and I feel very privileged to do the work I do.
While it is sometimes challenging it is a privilege to support people through what is often the worst day of their lives. Being a trauma team leader and an A&E consultant is varied and often exciting but most of all it is like working with your own family every day, the team is so supportive and we really look after each other.
My interests are in compassionate leadership, positive workplace culture and staff wellbeing and my aim is to develop these skills in order to ensure our team is appropriately supported to do the amazing work they do.
Hailing from South Africa, Mark Gunning, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, qualified in Capetown in 1988, and has worked in the NHS since 1991. All of his cardiology higher training was undertaken in London, and he took up his post at University Hospitals of North Midlands post in 2003.
He says: "It has been a privilege to work in cardiology through a period of very significant evolution. The treatments we are able to offer now, for a whole range of cardiac conditions, are markedly superior to those at our disposal when I first qualified over 25 years ago.
"Important landmarks on that timeline include the introduction of intra-coronary stents, the development of primary angioplasty as a treatment for myocardial infarction (heart attack), and the introduction of TAVI - a means of replacing a diseased heart valve without the need for open heart surgery.
"Unequivocally the best part of my job is interacting with and treating patients. This is particularly rewarding when helping someone who is critically unwell. When they arrive within the department for emergency treatment, we are able to offer swift relief for symptoms, but also on occasion, life-saving treatment. All these years down the line, I still relish front-line medicine."
Paul started out in the emergency department as an accident and emergency nurse in 2003 before going on to retrain in medicine. He trained as a doctor in Manchester before returning to the West Midlands to continue his training.
Paul currently works at UHNM as a Consultant in Emergency Medicine with a subspecialty interest in Paediatric Emergency Medicine.
With a love of motorbikes, Paul manages to mix his hobby with work and often provides medical cover at motorbike road racing meetings. Working on a race track in a trauma scenario has provided lots of experience of working under pressure.
He said: "A typical day in our department is hard to describe as it is so varied, from minor illnesses and injuries to major trauma and critical illnesses. However, despite how busy our department is, I know that I'm surrounded by one of the best teams in emergency medicine."
Born in Sri Lanka, Emergency Medicine Consultant Raj and was already half way through his post graduate training when he took the decision to leave his country because of the civil unrest. He arrived in the UK in 1990 having witnessed indescribable injuries from the victims of the war and embarked his career in a number of hospitals before settling in Stoke.
Now retired, but unable to keep away from the thrill and excitement of working in emergency, Raj continues to work shifts at the Emergency Department at Royal Stoke University Hospital.
He said: "I originally wanted to go into surgical training but my first job was in A&E and I loved it and quickly decided on a career change. I began my new role at the A&E department in King-Lynn and was soon thrown in the deep-end, having to get straight to work without an induction of any kind – a theme which continued on my arrival in Stoke in 1994. I was placed on-call straight away but luckily I was well looked after by colleagues, particularly the sisters. The department here is like an extended family, we look after each and the support we provide each other is reflected in the fact that that our registrars frequently return to work for us.
"I was put on the Monday shift, which for anyone who knows an Emergency Department, knows it's the busy one! A typical day brings a lot of challenges so the day just flies past. The job is so varied and I love the problem solving, dealing with issues, supporting staff and overall looking after patients. It is the patients who have made me a better person, personally and a better doctor clinically.
"I am proud to work for the NHS – it is the best insurance we can offer people - and in ED we work hard as a team to provide the best possible care to our patients. For me, the hardest part of my job is that this isn't always reflected or appreciated elsewhere in the NHS."
Major Trauma Centre
As one of just three EM consultants in post when the Trust was putting a bid in to have Major Trauma Centre status, Raj found himself in the unique position of providing advice and support in the design of the centre.
"I was able to tour other centres and see what worked well and what didn't and use all that feedback to create the MTC we have here at Stoke today. Obviously there are things that could be changed but I am immensely proud to have been involved in the centre's creation which now saves the lives of so many people on a daily basis," he said.
However, the 60 –year-old, credits the success of the Emergency Department and the MTC on all the staff who work there.
"It's the whole team, from the porters and cleaners to the nurses and consultants and beyond who make this department work so well. Everyone has a role to play in helping a patient when they arrive in the ED. Whether it is ensuring the bay is clean and prepped for patient arrival to the consultants making critical decisions about patient care – we all play a part – and I hope to continue to play mine for more years to come."
"I decided I wanted to do emergency medicine when I was at medical school. Having undertaken a placement in Emergency Department (ED) as one of my rotations I loved the work and the spirit of the doctors and nurses who worked there. I was attracted by the life or death situations that the team faced on a daily basis and the real difference the team made to peoples lives every single day.
"In my last year of medical school I joined the Army Reserves (which back then was known as the TA) to broaden my horizons and gain additional training and experiences above and beyond what was available to me if I just undertook NHS work.
"When I graduated in 2005 I made sure that I chose my foundation rotations carefully to ensure they would enhance my training to complement working in ED. And at the end of my two year foundation training I was deployed on my first tour of Afghanistan with the military to a field hospital in Camp Bastion.
"Over the years I have seen trauma resuscitation adapt and grow resulting in some amazing outcomes for patients. Within a trauma team you get to witness great team work and see people shine in ways not possible when they work in isolation in other situations. For me, it is an example of EM (emergency medicine) at its greatest and a great demonstration of the dedication and commitment of staff to doing whatever it takes to save a patient's life. It is also an emotional time with many people investing their heart and souls into the care of the patient. It can be emotionally exhausting and upsetting for staff, especially if the patient doesn't survive.
"My time with the military has shown me the amazing things that can be done when you dedicate huge resources to the care of injured soldiers in the middle of a desert and ensure that every part of their patient journey is optimised to maximise their chance of survival. These lessons have been integrated back into the NHS."
Richard Hall is an emergency medicine consultant and clinical lead for major trauma and Tri-network lead for major trauma.
After training in Aberdeen and living in various parts of the country, Richard settled on the Midlands completing his emergency medicine training in the West Midlands and became duel accredited in ED and Critical Care Medicine.
He said: "I was drawn to emergency medicine because I like the short term care of patients, honestly, I don't really have the attention span for long term care. My special interest is trauma.
"I have been the critical friend to the North West of Scotland and help them achieve major trauma status. They are the first trust in Scotland to function as a full major trauma centre. I found this a strange experience because I was advising some of the consultants and professors who trained me to be a junior doctor!
"There is no real typical day in trauma – it is the great unknown - whether a minor injury that I can fix and send home or a critically ill patient needing a multi-team approach to getting better- it can involve a number of things but there is usually a few children cases in the day also..
"My favourite part of the job is being able to look after anyone with an emergency problem that I can do something for and the least is looking at a corridor of patients with no real emergency problem but nowhere else to go.
"My job is more about co-ordination than direct care unless you're really poorly and then ED doctors spring into action! I have had lots of significant life events and really respect what I am allowed to do to patients who don't know me but put their trust in me to look after them or their most precious thing – their relative."
Vinayak is an intervention fellow who came to Royal Stoke University Hospital a year ago from Australia.
Born in India, his father was in the Indian Army and therefore he travelled a lot around the country during his childhood. As a result he was educated in four different schools across India and never really settled anywhere.
After initially qualifying in medicine in India he moved to Australia to experience new health and care systems and to start his medical career. He lived in Australia for nearly eight years before moving to Stoke following a chance meeting with Professor James Nolan, consultant cardiologist at UHNM at a conference in Paris.
He says: "My father is the reason why I took up medicine but I love the idea of providing unconditional care to those who need it and to helping people who are in poor shape and give them better opportunities for living a healthy long life.
"It was my meeting Professor Nolan that led to my decision to work in Stoke-on-Trent. He was very warm and welcoming but what really excited me was the fact the UHNM is a centre of excellence and a large teriatry centre.
"I have had a brilliant year in Stoke-on-Trent and my colleagues have been encouraging and courageous in their teaching and I have really appreciated the work ethic in the team which makes me want to be the best clinician I can be."
He is a keen swimmer and runner and after coming from Australia, Vinayak has taken advantage of living so close to other countries and has run half marathons in 10 different countries since moving to the UK!
"From an early age I always knew I wanted to become a surgeon. However, when most people were starting their medical training, I felt I had not experienced life or tested myself as an individual so I left school at 17 and joined The Parachute Regiment.
"I was there for three years and during my time was trained in Artic Warfare. My time in one of the army's elite regiments certainly pushed me to my physical and mental limits. It instilled the belief that no problem is insurmountable and the value of team work.
"Upon leaving, I became a commercial diver which I did for five years. This involved working for the oil industry inspecting and constructing offshore installations and pipelines. I spent the first two years working in the Middle East and the remaining three years living in Singapore and working in the South China Sea.
"Following this I then went to medical school and studied medicine for six years in Prague, Czech Republic. Apart from being a beautiful city to live and study, I was considered a mature student and there weren't many medical schools in England offering places to mature students at that time.
"Upon graduation, I worked in Northern Ireland and Liverpool before becoming a consultant cardiac surgeon in 2014 when I joined Royal Stoke University Hospital.
"I am married with three children. My wife is the backbone of the family and without her I would not be able to do what I do. I generally like to spend my free time running and keeping fit."
"I studied medicine to try to make people lives better and surgery specifically because I enjoy the skill and diversity of the work my job entails.
"My journey to becoming a colorectal consultant has taken 21 years from finishing my A-levels. I spent five years at medical school followed by a year as a pre-registration house officer as what is now called an F1. Having spent four years after that as a senior house officer during which time I sat and passed the examinations for four surgical colleges, I then spent two and a half years in research looking at cell shedding in the gut and obtained an MD from the University of Liverpool. I then spent seven years as a registrar and a year on a fellowship at the Christie Hospital in Manchester.
"I have also spent time working in Africa, which helped me to understand how working with very little resources can sometimes make some of the biggest differences.
"I am the Lead for audit in general surgery at UHNM and am one of two links to gynaecology for the management of colo-endometriosis. I am interested in the management of complex incisional hernias and I teach advanced trauma life support courses both at the Trust and nationally.
"My favourite thing about my job is the colleagues I work with. I count myself lucky to have found such a good department to work in."