Shami Umarji, Consultant Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon

We talked to Miss Shami Umarji, Consultant Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon at St George’s, about the work of the recently formed proning team working in intensive care.

What does your role now involve?

The Orthopaedic Surgeons and Audiologists have combined forces to form the Proning Team. We wanted to help our amazing ICU colleagues, and do our bit on the frontline.

How has your role – and that of your colleagues – changed?

It’s very different for us all. Proning involves positioning patients onto their stomachs,so enabling improved transfer of oxygen to their lungs. In essence, the position makes it easier for the patients to breathe.

This was well within the skillset of the Orthopods [orthopaedic surgeons] who are accustomed to positioning patients intra-operatively. It was entirely new to the Audiologists, who were quickly trained up and they have adapted brilliantly.

What has really impressed you all as a group?

It was humbling to see the immense dedication of the ITU team, in particular many of the nurses and juniors doctors who have been redeployed so have had to pick up new skills quickly.

I recall bumping into Eduardo, who is normally a healthcare assistant in day surgery. He was working on ICU, and I was really moved by his positivity and calm. Lots of people have put their fears aside and taken up the challenge. Much respect to them all for going above and beyond, which they truly have.

Will you do things differently as a result of Covid-19?

The Covid-19 pandemic is posing such a challenge for the whole world, but it has also been a once in a generation opportunity to be part of something extraordinary in the NHS. Of course, we will do some things differently and lessons have been learnt, but we have seen a real coming together of all people at St George’s.

The collaborations and connections made in recent weeks will put us in a really good place for the future. Amidst the sadness of seeing so many people die, it has been uplifting to see what amazing feats Team George’s is capable of.