I am a Consultant Anaesthetist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital and a Consultant in Pre Hospital Care at Bart Health where I work with London’s Air Ambulance and with the London Ambulance Service. Covid-19 has been an unprecedented time for both our country as a whole and within my experience, the NHS. Demands have been made across the spectrum, of people from all walks of life from the ICU nurses to key workers ensuring that essential services keep going. 

                         

                                    John with the London Air Ambulance        John, volunteering with Project Harar

                                                                                               

                                                                        

In my experience people have stood up and delivered beyond any expectation, but, it has not come as a surprise to me.   

Its the same attitude, the same ability to consistently deliver above expectations that I experience in the teams London's Air Ambulance have out 24/7 for the people of London, the Project Harar staff in delivering an expert surgical care hand in hand with our Ethiopian colleagues, in the NHS across London and in the Nightingale Field Hospital, it is a privilege to pay a small role in this.

In February 2020 at the behest of Dr Helena Scott ,a living legend of Guy’s Hospital's Anaesthetic Department, asked (and you can’t say no to someone who was on your interview panel after all!) me to sub in for her (as she was going to help her daughter through, the now ironically cancelled, school exams) to lead the Anaesthetic component of the 2020 Project Harar Complex mission. In Addis Ababa, I was impressed by the medical staff at the Yekatit 12 hospital hosting us and the level of expertise and collaboration between world class surgeons. We operated for 2 weeks on complex  surgical cases and there were heart rending moments where the realities of what was being achieved hit everyone. Everyday any the cases we did, would have been amongst the toughest in any UK hospital. 

John, volunteering with Project Harar

The team of anaesthetic doctors consisted of 2 Consultants and 2 trainees with half being UK military doctors. This close collaboration is something I have seen mirrored in the working partnership day to day at London’s Air Ambulance where I am lucky to have in the team both Consultants colleagues and seconded military Doctors and an excellent working relationship with specialist units in both the military and the police. This is something I see continue and strengthen the NHS Nightingale where I have been assisting the London Ambulance Service with critical care transfers. 

John, with London Air Ambulance

Finally back to Dr Scott, at Guy’s Hospital, she volunteered to step back and join me on the on call rota and do 150% of our normal hours to put herself at risk as part of the intubation team for the sickest COVID patients, providing medical expertise and most importantly compassion and care to those in need. We at Guy’s Hospital, the NHS and at London’s Air Ambulance continue to be there for those who need us. This is the spirit I saw in Project Harar and this is why, I’m impressed but not surprised.