Professor Robert Middleton, Head of the Orthopaedic Research Institute (ORI) at BU, has been appointed as one of the Medical Commanders at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Each Medical Commander is available for 24 hours a day to respond to any changes that require medical decisions, in order to provide a safe and effective service for patients.
Professor Middleton, who has had the role of Clinical Director of Trauma at Poole Hospital for the past ten years, said: “When there is a serious incident, the hospital sets up an incident room so that it can respond to the emergency - for example, organise extra doctors and nurses, extra equipment or order more blood.
“We have always been prepared for incidents, but previously they have been short incidents, lasting for an hour or a day or two. This is very different, we think this emergency will go on for weeks or months.”
The hospital has appointed four senior doctors to become Medical Commanders. They take it in turns to be in the incident room, with the Nursing Commander and Management Commander, responding to problems as they arise.
The Medical Commanders spend twelve hours a day in the board room, providing a presence on site between 8am-8pm, and then are available on call overnight.
“I am extremely lucky to have some very good colleagues to work with, and everyone is pulling together,” said Professor Middleton.
“My life has changed from spending most of my waking hours in theatres to spending the day in a board room. For the present time, that’s the best way I can make a contribution.
“But we must appreciate the doctors, the nurses and the support staff who are working on the front line looking after patients. It’s great to be able to support them, to make sure they have all the equipment they need to do their job.”
Professor Middleton is a Professor of Orthopaedics at BU and a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, specialising in hip replacements.
He said: “For over twenty years, I’ve done the same job every day of the week, and around 90 per cent of my work has been with patients, either operating or seeing them in the clinics, or doing ward rounds.
That has changed entirely, and now 100 per cent of my work involves management and organising a response to the current pandemic.All my elective work and clinics have stopped because we have been freeing up hospital space for patients with COVID-19.
“My hip fellows are also contributing by taking up new roles elsewhere, for example, helping with trauma lists whilst their elective work has stopped, working in fracture clinics, minor injury units, or providing virtual clinics for patients."
He added: “When not on duty, the temporary closure of the campuses at Bournemouth University has given me the opportunity to complete outstanding research, develop remote teaching programmes, and apply for grants to fund future research after the pandemic.”
Commenting on the appointment, Dr. Matt Thomas, Medical Director at Poole Hospital, said: “I’m delighted that our senior medical team have stepped up to provide the additional support the hospital needs at this time.
"Professor Middleton joins Miss Abigail Evans, deputy medical director and clinical lead for breast and endocrine surgery; Dr. Maxine Flubacher, consultant clinical oncologist; Dr Lee Gray, deputy medical director and consultant in emergency medicine; Dr. Ralph Gregory, lead consultant neurologist and Dr. Stephen Wadhams, lead consultant paediatrician, as our medical commanders overseeing the provision of safe and effective care for patients.”