Jonathan Silver, Medical Devices and Incidents Manager, goes above and beyond

What does your role normally involve?

I’m responsible for medical device safety across the Trust. I investigate incidents and adverse events involving medical devices, which is anything from faulty cannulas and instruments right up to life-critical machines. I also alert manufacturers and authorities about design and manufacture problems, and design systems to try and reduce the likelihood of patients being harmed by user error, and device failure.

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

I’ve dropped everything! I’m co-ordinating the equipment required for increasing the number of ITU beds we have, so a typical day involves identifying which new beds we can open, what new equipment we’ve received overnight, and what new technical and clinical issues we’ve encountered in the past 24 hours. Our team also provide bedside support for staff who are new to ITU, as a number of staff have been re-deployed to these areas. We also test new equipment in the lab, in various circumstances, to understand how it performs and how we can use it safely and effectively.

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

Science! It’s been a joy to be able to dust off my biomedical engineering background to solve problems with ventilators, and calculate and monitor the extra demands on our electricity and oxygen supplies here at the Trust.

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

It’s universal. Every single person I have worked with in the last few weeks has stepped up with commitment and good humour. With the addition of radiation physicists, and even rehabilitation engineers borrowed from Queen Mary’s Hospital, I’ve been proud to be part of an incredible team where managers and technicians alike are happy to come in on a Sunday to move pallets of equipment so that we can open the beds we need for Monday.

What is the hardest thing about the current circumstances?

Learning to pace yourself. It’s compelling to work long days and through the weekend (particularly now the pubs are closed!) but you’re no good to anyone if you burn out. As we have been told, it’s a marathon not a sprint, but it’s easier said than done. That, and trying to keep track of all the equipment while it constantly moves around!