Anaesthetic consultant

Isabeau Walker is an anaesthetic consultant who looks after children at a time when they are having a major operation, or if they are on an intensive care ward.

If the audio is not playing, please listen on AudioBoom.

Isabeau Walker: Anaesthetic consultant (audio transcript)

“My name is Isabeau Walker. I’m one of the anaesthetic consultants at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“The anaesthetist has quite a wide role within the hospital. We obviously look after children during surgery during an operation but also we look after children after an operation because the anaesthetic department runs the acute pain team so any child that’s had an operation will receive a visit form an anaesthetist twice a day, the first few days after an operation, just to make sure everything is OK and that they are comfortable.

“We also are involved in intensive care so some anaesthetists actually work primarily in intensive care and the anaesthetists are also involved in resuscitation services as well so quite a broad range of things that we do.

“We see children for all sorts of different procedures that need an anaesthetic. It might be just a minor procedure such as a lumbar puncture for chemotherapy, but these children have many many operations or it may be a child coming for a cardiac operation which is a much bigger much longer procedure and obviously anaesthesia is very important for all these types of care.

“One of the important things we do when we look after a child having an anaesthetic is to explain the procedures and what to expect. There are two different ways we can give an anaesthetic one is by giving some gas to breathe and the child will usually hold a face mask in front of them and breathe the anaesthetic gas slowly, slowly and they gradually drift off to sleep. And then for the older children and those who have lines in we give them an intravenous anaesthetic so it’s an injection of a white medicine and they drift off to sleep very, very quickly. It can be a bit of a surprise sometimes to families how quickly children go off to sleep when they’re getting an intravenous anaesthetic.

“Having a needle is one of those things that people worry about a lot we make sure that this is as pleasant as possible. We have a very special cream called ametop cream, which is a local anaesthetic cream that we put on a child’s hand before they come to theatre and that makes their skin feel numb so that they don’t feel the injection. That’s a very important thing that we can do.

“One of the most rewarding things about my job I think is seeing a child safely through an operation. Particularly when it’s a difficult operation. We often see parents to be really worried about the child having the surgery and it’s really good to be able to reassure them, to be able to see the child safely through the procedure and to wake up at the end and everything has gone well. So it is really a rewarding job.”

You’ve been listening to a podcast produced by Great Ormond Street Hospital in November 2010. If you’ve enjoyed listening to this, visit our website to hear more interviews from people who work here. This podcast does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. No liability can be taken as a result of using this information.