Consultant respiratory and general medicine

Felix ChuaFelix Chua
Consultant in Respiratory and General Medicine, joined the Trust in 2007

What is your role?

I am the lead clinician for the interstitial lung disease (ILD) service at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which provides a dedicated clinic as well as specialist advice and ward referral service. The ILDs are complex conditions that may affect a wide range of individuals, including those with rheumatological conditions or those who have been exposed to certain drugs or environmental agents.

There is also a large group of entities for which a cause has not been identified. The common link amongst all these diseases is their tendency to form lung scarring, a complication known as pulmonary fibrosis. My job is to secure an accurate diagnosis, ensure prompt treatment and closely monitor these patients over time.

I also run the outpatient pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) service based in the Chest Clinic. This is a busy service with a team of specialist nurses and administrative staff who also participate in the paediatric clinic, joint HIV-TB clinic and community screening programmes. Close links are maintained with the Clinical Infection Unit (CIU) and the department of Microbiology. Furthermore, I take part in the General Medicine rota by providing consultant level input into the admission and care of patients with a variety of acute and chronic medical problems.

What does a typical working day look like?

My day starts with seeing inpatients if it happens to be my turn to look after the Chest ward. This occurs on a rotating basis, one week out of every five.

Wednesday is clinic day, with the ILD clinic in the morning and TB clinic in the afternoon. These are teaching clinics attended by medical students.

I also have separate general Respiratory and Lung Cancer clinics at Kingston Hospital four Mondays out of every five. In addition, I supervise a diagnostic bronchoscopy list at both St George’s and Kingston Hospitals, rotating with other colleagues in the department.

Meetings of course take up quite a bit of the rest of the weekly schedule; these may be clinical, management-related, educational or research-based. Any remaining time is occupied by paperwork and reviewing the results of clinical investigations.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The clinical aspects are the most satisfying, particularly when patients are well managed and a successful clinical outcome is achieved. This is especially so when the clinical situation is complicated or still evolving. In such situations, I am reliant upon and enjoy engaging with highly knowledgeable and dedicated colleagues from diverse specialties and clinical backgrounds. I am also pleased that St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has such an assured reputation for excellence in teaching; my experience in working with trainee doctors and students who are inquisitive and determined has been rewarding.

What level of patient contact do you have in your role?

Direct and lots! On the wards, in clinics and over the telephone. Patient contact is a crucial aspect of my job.

What other members of the healthcare team do you work with?

Consultant colleagues in Respiratory medicine and other specialties, junior doctors, general and specialist nurses, lung function physiologists, administrative staff, pharmacists as well as members of the therapies division.

What do you like about working for the Trust?

The working environment at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is very collegial, collaborative and supportive. In my area of medicine, I don’t get the impression that things are done in a vacuum; a lot of different people work closely together to achieve common goals. I have experienced first hand the advantages of working in an environment where strong multidisciplinary working comes as second nature.

Why did you join the NHS?

I joined the NHS partly for the scope for developing a first-rate clinical service. I find that there is constant innovation with a lot of dedicated individuals working in an environment that thrives on diversity and which values the skills that they bring to the organisation. For me, the NHS allows me to make decisions, sometimes on the critically unwell, that are beneficial to the lives of patients and their carers.