‘I broke both my wrists cycling, but I’ll get back on my bike thanks to St George’s’
Even in a pandemic, the NHS is here to treat much more than Covid-19. Emergency care for patients has not stopped, and that’s something Simon Hawkes understands after his first trip to an emergency department with two broken wrists.
Simon, from Wandsworth in south London, was on a cycle ride last month when the back wheel of his bike slipped from underneath him. He fell over his handlebars and instinctively held out his arms, with his wrists taking the full impact of his fall.
The 59-year-old was cycling with his son, William, in Peaslake – a popular spot for mountain biking in the Surrey hills. Simon has always been a keen cyclist and before retiring in 2019, he cycled for thirty years to his marketing job in London.
Simon said: “It’s a route I’ve done many times before, but the difference this time was I was riding a newish bike and on the part of the trail I call the “up and over”. As I went over I flipped over the handlebars and landed hard on my wrists.”
After receiving treatment at the nearest emergency department, the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guilford, Simon was transferred to St George’s to be treated by orthopaedic specialists who realigned the bones in his wrists ahead of surgery.
Simon returned to St George’s a day later to meet the surgeon who would be leading his operation, Miss Shamim Umarji – a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in hand and wrist surgery.
Simon said: “I instantly warmed to Miss Umarji’s approach. She said all the right things from that first encounter to make me feel comfortable and confident in her care. You can tell she’s at the top of her game and so professional – I trusted her instantly and you can’t underestimate how psychologically important that is.”
One thing that stood out for Simon was the obvious care and attention that had gone into ensuring everyone’s safety at St George’s. Everyone was wearing masks, keeping their distance and following the strict infection control protocols in place to protect patients and staff.
Simon said: “Throughout the whole experience, everyone who treated me was observing the right protocols and not once did I think I was being exposed. There was signage in place to show people wear to sit and walk, screens in front of reception desks and hand sanitiser at main entrances. I felt massively reassured by all this, and that’s perhaps why Covid-19 wasn’t on my mind too much.”
He continued: “I was a bit apprehensive when I first arrived for my operation, but the staff instantly made me feel at ease. Leo, the anaesthetist overseeing my operation, was another standout member of the team. He looked after me before, during and after my surgery, and made sure I understood exactly what was going to happen.”
Simon is now recovering well at home with the help of his wife, Amanda, who worked as a Sister in the emergency department at St George’s between 1992-95. Two weeks post-surgery, Simon can already sew a button on his shirt, dress himself and brush his teeth.
Miss Umarji said: “Simon had two very different complex fractures, so to see that he’s already able to do things like sew a button is an excellent result. Thanks to how quickly Simon came to us, we were able to make sure he received the right treatment at the right time.
“If you need emergency care or surgery, we are here for you, so please don’t delay coming to us. We have a range of measures in place to keep everyone safe, and to help put your mind at ease.”
Simon added: “I’m so impressed by the team at St George’s and really can’t fault the care I’ve received; it’s been out of this world. Thanks to Miss Umarji, Leo and the rest of their team, I’m hoping to be back on my bike in the new year.”