Dr Sarah Hammond, Consultant Anaesthetist and Clinical Director for Anaesthetics and Theatres

Sarah has worked at St George’s as a Consultant Anaesthetist since 2010.

What does your role normally involve?

I am an anaesthetist and Clinical Director for Anaesthetics and Theatres here at St George’s. I help oversee how the service is run, but also still do a lot of clinical work – for example, on a Tuesday, I anaesthetise for our urology team, and on a Thursday, I am almost always with our obstetrics team or in emergency theatres. I’ve been here quite a long time – and before 2010, I was a trainee here as well, so know St George’s pretty well!

How has your role changed as a result of Covid-19?

It’s changed beyond recognition, and that is probably true of nearly every team. It’s amazing really. Like everyone in my area, I am doing a lot of work to support efforts to increase our critical care capacity, for the increase in Covid-19 cases we are already seeing. Anaesthetists have skill-sets that are similar to intensivists, so we have been able to mobilise really quickly.

Rotas have been changed, and because we have stopped doing a lot of operations, we are able to commit fully to the Covid-19 response. Of course, we still need to carry out some urgent operations that just can’t wait, so we are supporting our surgical teams with that as well. It’s a worrying time for patients, so we are supporting them in every way we can.

What has the response from colleagues been like?

The response has been fantastic, and we’ve even had some recently retired members of staff come back to help, so it’s been great to see them back so soon! It is challenging – the situation is changing rapidly, and we are all having to adapt so quickly.

We are talking closely to colleagues in Italy, which is helpful, but also reminds us of how big the challenge we face is. There are real worries, which staff across the NHS are experiencing, and St George’s is no different. Staff are showing real courage, there is no doubt about that – and I am genuinely proud to work alongside them.

How do you switch off?

I don’t, but need to find a way! There is a fantastic group of people in anaesthetics and theatres, which is why I have worked here so long. I have got some truly awesome colleagues, and we help to keep each other sane – including Liz Williams, Emma Evans, James Pavett-Downer, and Jacqui Bishop, to name just a few!

Taking some down time is really difficult, but we must learn to do it. We are problem solving all the time, and it is tricky to stop doing that, particularly when life at home isn’t normal at the moment either. I’ve just heard that the yoga teacher I used to go to is going to do some online sessions, so I may give that a try!