Dr Rafik Bedair, Consultant Intensivist, goes above and beyond for Team St George’s

Dr Rafik Bedair is a Consultant Intensivist who has worked at St George’s since 2013.

He is currently Divisional Chair for our Children’s, Women’s, Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Community Division. Until very recently, he was also Clinical Director for Adult Critical Care at St George’s.

Why did you want to work in intensive (critical) care?

When I started out, I actually wanted to be a cardiothoracic surgeon! However, my first rotation as a junior doctor was in an intensive care unit, and I loved it straight away. It has a really good balance between the work of a doctor – assessing patients and making clinical judgement calls – as well as still having to use your hands; intensive care doctors do carry out invasive procedures, such as inserting different types of lines, securing airways etc. Also, in intensive care, you can quickly see how patients are responding to the clinical decisions or interventions you are making – which I have always liked.

What does your role normally involve?

Earlier this year, I was made Divisional Chair, which means that – alongside my clinical duties – I also have clinical managerial responsibility for a wide range of services. However, I still spend half my time in intensive care as a clinician, and that’s important, as that’s what I spent years training to do! Some weeks are busier than others – e.g. when I am on-call – but it’s a pretty good balance.

How has life changed for you as a result of Covid-19?

I thought I was busy, but now I am really busy! And I think we all feel the same. My role is multilayered, so it’s pretty hectic. I’ve had to play my part in building our own intensive care capacity at St George’s; although the whole hospital has truly mobilised to help make this happen. I am also working closely with colleagues at other hospitals across south west London to ensure a joined up approach when the surge in cases hits. But, as important, I also have clinical responsibility for other services (e.g. such as paediatrics and maternity) so we are having to ensure this and other key services function as close to normal as possible. Patient safety is key, and that is driving everything we do. I also think the current situation has changed the way in which intensive care is viewed, and helped educate the public about what we do. I am attending a lot of meetings, and the views of intensivists are truly being heard, which is important, as staff working in this area are crucial to the Covid-19 response.

What have you been most struck by?

I have been very moved by the togetherness. No one under-estimates the scale of the challenge, not least here at St George’s, as the biggest healthcare provider in this part of London. There is clearly a lot of emotional strain – you can see and feel it – and it is a difficult environment to work in at the moment, particularly as we are opening new and additional intensive care units. I think it is important for everyone to take care of each other, but I’ve only seen a really positive response so far, which is great to see.