Meet our Radiology Staff – Michael, Cardiac Radiographer

Michael has been a qualified Diagnostic Radiographer since 1996. With so much experience, things have really changed since he first started, for the better.

‘I qualified as a Diagnostic Radiographer in 1996. I had a varied career before I started at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. Initially I worked for eighteen months at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield before moving to Bristol. I worked at Frenchay Hospital for eight years specialising in CT, Cerebral Angiography and Nuclear Medicine. During this time I was promoted to Senior 2, then Senior 1 and gained my PG (Dip) in Nuclear Medicine. I spent a year teaching undergraduate Radiography and post graduate Nuclear Medicine at the University of the West of England; gaining my PG (Cert) in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. I then spent seven years doing CT and health screening as a Site Manager then a National Manager. When this finished, I was doing some locum work in Portsmouth, I had a young family and I was away all week. We were considering relocating when the job at UHB came up and I jumped at it, as we didn’t really want to leave Bristol.

Tell us more about your current role?

I am now a Cardiac Radiographer working in the Cardiac Catheter Labs, at the Bristol Heart Institute. I have now worked at the trust for just over eight years, since January I have been a band 7 assisting the Superintendent for the Cath Labs. I work as part of a very busy team and I cover the BHI and the Bristol Children’s Hospital Hybrid lab. I am a radiographer, but part of a much bigger multi-disciplinary team. I find my job incredibly rewarding, we perform a wide range of tests and treatments. We install pacemakers, replacement valves; treat aneurysms, hole in the heart defects, abnormal heart rhythms and coronary artery disease to name just a few of the things we do. I take part in the 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, on call service. We do 24 hour shifts which can be incredibly busy but are one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. Patients who are having a heart attack in the community are rushed directly to us via ambulance. We do a diagnostic angiogram to find out where the problem is, we can then unblock the artery and insert a stent. It’s a one stop shop to treat heart attacks.

Over my eight years I have taken on additional roles aiming to improve patient safety and working conditions for the staff. I am now a departmental Risk Assessor, Manual Handling Risk Assessor, COSHH Risk Assessor, Wellbeing Advocate and Health and Safety Advocate. During my time here, I was asked to make a presentation to visiting careers advisors on “Studying Radiography” which I enjoyed and I got very positive feedback on. Last year I presented at the Bristol PCI Course which was about Radiation Safety, I have been asked to do this lecture at future courses as a regular presenter. One of the things I like about the UHB is the willingness to try new ways of working to improve services. I have been supported in some initiatives I have suggested, I took on housekeeping duties for the departmental internet space and developed this and expanded this to include new areas and information to help staff training, including a digital protocol book I did with a colleague, and a digital annual leave calendar and booking system. I have more recently digitised all of the Health and Safety reports so they are easier for staff to access.

To try and improve services and run the labs longer each day, the Radiographers changed from a five day week to four extended days, giving us a day off in the week. We got to trial this first with the backing of management and I am so glad we did, I now have one day a week that I can take my little boy to school, attend school events and cook the family’s evening meal. It certainly helps with the work life balance, having a day at home during the week when you sometimes have to work at the weekend. It is also great for getting those little jobs done, such as booking appointments for the dentist or doctors’ or going to the bank.

What is the best part about working at UH Bristol and Weston?

Without a doubt, the best thing about working in the department is the people; the team are fantastic, they are so dedicated and very hard working. Like any job there are bad days, we work long hours in trying and emotional situations but the team always comes together and gets you through, with support, a few laughs and maybe some chocolate. They are truly a great team and I often call them my second family. We work hard but play hard too, having many fun times, going out for meals or to the cinema, theatre or doing team sporting events and we’ve even done a couple of ‘zombie’ events. I set up a running club for the department, called the Cardiac Primary Runners and even managed to design a logo and get our own kit made. Last year fourteen of us did an event in Bath; I am hoping to get some more team events set up this year. I also take part in the Keep Bristol Warm events, where we take donated clothes to the homeless of Bristol. The team have been amazing and so generous; so far I have taken three full car loads of clothes, blankets, sleeping bags etc. to the homeless of Bristol. It is very humbling to see such acts of kindness with no expectation of any thanks.

I love the NHS, having studied the creation of the welfare state at school, I know how difficult it was to achieve and how lucky we are to have this amazing service. It is very easy to take it for granted but we shouldn’t, it is an incredible service and everybody should be proud of it. It is easy to get frustrated with waiting lists, cancellations and perceived inadequacies but I know the people in the NHS do the very best with the resources they have and I am very proud to be amongst them. There are lots of pressures, increased workloads, staff shortages, financial constrictions but every day the team come in and do their very best to provide excellent care, supporting the public and each other.

What is it about Bristol you love so much?

I really like Bristol and it has always suited my lifestyle, when I first moved to Bristol at 23, I loved the vibrant night life, clubs, bars and music venues. Coming from a small market town I also liked the green spaces and the ease of access to the countryside and the rest of the country with its access to the M4 and M5. Now I have a family I appreciate it for different reasons, I now appreciate the wide range of quality restaurants and places to eat. I enjoy taking my kids to try new foods and exposing them to new cultures which is so easy in Bristol. My partner and I really enjoy the theatre scene in Bristol; we have access to the big shows but have found lots of small, low budget theatre groups which have put on some amazing shows. We love the Wardrobe Theatre in particular. There are great venues for kids and there is always something going on including the Gromit trails, the Christmas Markets, the Harbour festival and Balloon fiesta. I am also excited by the proposed big music venue which will bring big names to the city of Bristol.’

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