RCoA patients’ voices at Anaesthesia 2022

Published: 08/06/2022 | Author: Chiew Yin Jones and Veena Son

Yin said:
On the evening of 16 May 2022, I found myself in a football-themed hotel room looking out at Old Trafford football stadium! The following day I was due to join the panel discussion on Assisted Dying at the conference. I met up with Veena and as we enjoyed a meal together, we chatted avidly about the conference the next day.

In 2020, I started volunteering for the College as I was motivated by the desire to contribute to health services for others. Together with Veena and other volunteers, I advise and support the College to improve patient care by offering a non-medical perspective. It was in that capacity that I was asked to join the panel discussion.

On the morning of the conference, we heard from several high-profile speakers including Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester who opened the conference and Sir Alex Ferguson. I remember thinking that this was certainly an event to write home about!

I found the other presentations interesting, and the morning flew by. After a good lunch, it was time for our panel discussion. Following presentations from Dr David Bogod and Dr Ken McKinlay, we answered questions from the audience. The questions were insightful, and we also heard Veena’s moving personal account. A few people came up to us after the conference and told us they appreciated our contribution as non-medical members.

As I travelled back to London later that day, I reflected on my experience. I was particularly interested in hearing about initiatives to ensure patient safety and was pleased to have been able to participate in a conference for anaesthetists by providing a patient’s voice.  

Veena said:
 started volunteering for the College earlier this year as I wanted to share my experience of being a carer and a patient to bring about change and improve patient care. I was therefore very pleased when I was asked to join the panel at Anaesthesia 2022.

Shortly after I arrived at the hotel, Yin and I went to the memorabilia shop in Old Trafford to buy souvenirs for our families before dinner. We were feeling very enthusiastic about the conference the next day. The conference was held in the VIP lounge in Old Trafford, and it was exciting to be there particularly as some family members are ardent Manchester United fans!

I was very impressed by the presentations and how relatable the topics were to discussions I have had to have in my own life. I enjoyed hearing from the anaesthetist who looked after Sir Alex Ferguson after he suffered a brain haemorrhage and was able to empathise as my husband had suffered a brain haemorrhage twice with little chance of surviving. I am glad to say that my husband is now well.

Before I knew it, the panel discussion was upon us. When the Chair asked if anyone wanted to share their thoughts at the start, I took the opportunity to share my story. After the conference, several people said they valued our insight and would like to see more input from non-medical members as it would provide a different perspective to their work.

I thoroughly enjoyed Anaesthesia 2022 and found it rewarding to be there. The conference was made even more special as Sir Alex Ferguson kindly signed his autobiography for a member of my family. I am already looking forward to Anaesthesia 2023!

Chiew Yin Jones and Veena Soni
RCoA Lay Committee Members