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Do you have what it takes to be our next Clinical Director?

We’re currently recruiting for a Clinical Director at CHAS, a role that will will lead an incredible clinical team delivering paediatric palliative care across the whole country.

We caught up with Dr Pat, our current Medical Director, who is retiring in the summer of 2022. Pat tells us about his experiences working at CHAS and what kind of candidate he hopes this exciting role will attract.

Hello!

Colleagues at Children's Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) have asked me to write a blog which might help doctors who might be prospectively interested in applying for the post as Clinical Director in CHAS, which we are currently recruiting for. We are looking for the person who will be my successor when I retire in the summer of 2022.

For me, my years working at CHAS have been among the most rewarding of my career. I want us to find and then employ the kind of doctor who walks with families from the point of referral through to the unimaginable experience of the death of their child. The successful clinician should be able to lead the team in this, pulling in all their different skills and experiences, and to apply this in the planning of services in CHAS and with our colleagues in the NHS and local authority teams.

As I reflect on what I do and what other doctors might find appealing, I believe that there are a couple of questions I would like to answer:

  1. How I "ended up" as Medical Director for a children's hospice service over the last 15 years?
  2. What aspects of this job do I find most rewarding?

In 1977, I moved to Scotland to begin my medical training and next summer (2022), it will be 40 years since I qualified as a doctor. In those years I have witnessed many changes, and so much has moved on generally and, specifically, in paediatric care.

Initially after qualifying as a doctor, I had a real interest in Paediatrics but I also trained as a GP. I then became an established Principal in General Practice when CHAS proposed building Scotland's first children's hospice in Kinross, my home town. I was determined to support CHAS to deliver the very best care and support to children and their families.

Why? Because I believe that my kind of family and community medicine was just so suited to children's palliative care. Subsequently, I embarked on some formal retraining via the University Of Wales College Of Medicine, which was six years after Rachel House had opened in 1996.

Alongside this my input grew steadily over the first ten years, balancing my role with my job as a GP. By then, CHAS had opened Robin House in 2005 and started care from CHAS at Home. In 2006 I became CHAS' first Medical Director.

Today, 15 years later, there are absolutely no two days the same and anyone stepping into this role will have the enormous privilege of bringing their clinical skills and expertise into full use in the care of some of the most unwell and vulnerable babies, children and young people in Scotland.

This is not a 9am to 5pm job. As part of a medical rota, I sometimes find myself in a family home at a weekend, or overnight, perhaps with a local Children's Community Nurse as we strive to ensure a family is able to stay at home or within Rachel House or Robin House for the death of their child. I get to practice truly holistic palliative medicine and work with an exceptional multi-professional team, both in CHAS and the NHS.

Often it is not the obvious clinical problems that are the biggest barrier to families getting to where they need to be. Sometimes, it is through taking the time to really listen that our team and I can help get to the things that really matter to families and their children. Of course, we are doing this alongside colleagues in the NHS and local authorities as we all have a part to play at this most important time.

Another hugely rewarding part of being Clinical Director at CHAS is leading our team of doctors, pharmacists, advanced nurses and independent practitioners. Together we provide medical cover to the children's hospices every day and night of the year.

Additionally, I spend time teaching and coaching this group of practitioners. This part of my job is at the very heart of ensuring long term senior clinical sustainability at CHAS so that we can continue to provide incredible and complex care to families across the country.

I'm involved in the National Managed Clinical Networks for Children's Palliative and End of Life Care, and I set up and lead an approach to shared learning called Project ECHO. These are all activities which I believe are driving a culture of integrated working at CHAS. I remain so pleased to be a part of this of this work, but I want to hand it over to the right person.

Am I excited for whoever takes over from me?

Absolutely!

Scotland is doing incredible things to support families whose children have life shortening conditions. The person who becomes CHAS's next Clinical Director will be part of doing even more.

Have I helped your deliberations yet? Only you will know that but please feel free to get in touch with me direct if you wish to discuss this post.

I'd be more than happy to answer any questions!

Dr Pat Carragher, Medical Director to Children's Hospices Across Scotland, FRCPCH, MRCGP - Send me an Email

View full details on the Clinical Director role along with how to apply.

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