David Diaz Gomez, Lead Sonographer in our Fetal Medicine Unit

David Diaz Gomez is the lead sonographer in our fetal medicine unit and is also a qualified midwife. He’s been working at St George’s since October 2019.

What does your role normally involve?

My role involves a number of different clinical and managerial duties including:

  • Performing both routine and emergency obstetric ultrasound examinations
  • Performing first trimester aneuploidy screening for Down’s, Patau’s and Edwards’ syndromes and well as first trimester screening for pre-eclampsia
  • Liaising with colleagues as part of a multidisciplinary team within the fetal medicine unit, day assessment unit and greater maternity division to develop guidelines and protocols based on the most up-to-date evidence.
  • Day to day managerial tasks such as organising rotas and workload

How has it changed as a result of Covid-19?

Our team is very small, consisting of just eleven staff members, which enables us to work excellently and efficiently together. However, it does also present difficulties when staff illness – or isolation – strikes, or when staff with underlying health conditions need to remove themselves from frontline duties.

As a specialised team, it is extremely difficult to find cover to replace team members. However, we reacted quickly in order to maintain our service for our patients.

We did so by creating new clinical protocols and guidelines to adapt to the new and ever evolving situation following new Trust and Government guidance. We also created an army of sonographers by recruiting staff from across the Trust with obstetric ultrasound skills and qualifications. We developed an obstetrics refresher programme where each sonographer is assessed for safe practice, ensuring they also feel well supported within our fetal medicine unit team.

We perform more than 70 obstetric ultrasound examinations every day and I’m proud that despite Covid-19, we as a team are continuing to maintain both the volume of scans and the high quality of care we provide thanks to the actions we’ve taken to maintain our service.

We’ve also started using additional ultrasound machines, as well as having additional staff, to reduce waiting times and therefore reduce the length of time our patients would need to be in hospital for.

What is the most interesting thing about your change in role?

The way we have been flexible to adapt staff and resources to the new situation in an incredibly short period of time.

I have been truly amazed by how many have offered to assist. This has shown such an excellent example of interdepartmental co-operation with many volunteers from the general ultrasound department, clinical research team, and the fetal medicine clinical fellows and consultants. I cannot be more thankful to each of them.

What has most impressed you about the response of staff/colleagues?

The fetal medicine unit staff and colleagues are the core part of this tremendous effort and their quick adaptations. They have been working extremely hard supporting both the service and each other despite the fear of the unknown. They are everything in the unit and without them, we could not maintain the high standard of service that we deliver. They are real heroes.

What is the hardest thing about the current circumstances?

Some staff members have very understandable concerns either due to individual or family circumstance and they are working under a lot of pressure as Covid-19 has introduced a significant amount of uncertainty into both our working and personal lives. Our close-knit team has been so vital in supporting each other during this incredibly trying time.