by Gary Masterson
President of the Intensive Care Society
As your new ICS President, I thought an introduction would be useful as I don’t see myself as one of the big national names .
I was brought up in Belfast in the 60s and 70s, and studied medicine at Trinity College, Cambridge. My first exposure to critical care was during my surgical house job (or F1 in modern parlance) in Great Yarmouth, when one of my surgical patients was admitted to the intensive care unit. It was a seminal moment. I was mesmerised by the available technology, the data and numbers, and mostly the medical staff. The trainees, relaxed and cool, could handle anything. The consultants seemed to know and understand everything. This apparent precision was in contrast to ward based medicine where guess work seemed to play a much greater role. I decided there and then that I wanted to be part of this select team.
I pursued training in anaesthesia, which in those days was by far the easiest way to build a career in critical care, and did a stint in general medicine in the North West. I was appointed as a consultant in critical care and anaesthesia at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital where I still work as a full-time NHS consultant.
I believe the development of effective critical care networks in recent years has been one of the most important developments in our speciality.
Shortly after my appointment I went on a sabbatical to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Centre in Baltimore. My experience and education levels literally rocketed. I returned home just before the millennium to resume my consultant post before being shoe horned into the role of Clinical Director. This was the start of my non-clinical career journey. In 2006 I was appointed as Medical Lead for the Cheshire & Mersey Critical Care Network, a role I still enjoy today. Of course I am biased, but I believe the development of effective critical care networks in recent years has been one of the most important developments in our speciality.
I was elected to ICS Council four years ago and became heavily involved in the production of standards and guidelines. I co-chaired the ICS/FICM Joint Standards Committee and was responsible for the publication of GPICS. I am the first to admit that GPICS is not perfect, and needs further and careful development. It is nevertheless a great start in defining exactly what our speciality should be. We are lucky that in critical care our national organisations, the ICS, FICM, CQC, BACCN and Adult Critical Care National Clinical Reference Group, have all worked together to develop and help implement GPICS. I am proud to have been a big part of this. Of course, many challenges remain, particularly due to financial and seasonal (well, perennial) pressures. My other major ICS role has been working with the ICS Patients & Relatives Committee, during which I have been truly educated about the patient’s and relative’s viewpoint.
I will do my utmost to make our Society deliver what we all need
If I am honest, I have suffered past delusions about the idea of becoming the ICS President. I promise I will do my best to control my megalomania. I never thought the opportunity would come my way, but it has, and I will do my utmost to make our Society deliver what we all need. I will be outlining our vision for the Society in the near future.
For now, I wish you all luck and fortune in dealing with the pressures that all of us working in the acute sectors of the NHS are experiencing.