60 seconds with Dr Vikas Kapil | #TeamBartsHealth blogs

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60 seconds with Dr Vikas Kapil

How long have you worked here?

I first joined Barts Health in 2007 as a registrar in clinical pharmacology and cardiovascular medicine and have remained here to date, finishing my clinical and scientific training and continuing my career as an academic clinician and consultant.

What attracted you to the job?

Medication prescriptions are the most common healthcare intervention for all patients and the safe, effective and cost-effective use of medicines is paramount in a modern, safe, world-leading yet cash-constrained NHS. Clinical Pharmacologists span the remit between individual patient care; healthcare policy and evaluation; and scientific discovery to try to achieve these aims. 

What does your job involve?

My working week is pretty varied as I have a number of different ‘hats’. I chair the Barts Medicines Committee where we review medicine safety alerts and datixs and review our ongoing audit of safe and effective medicines management.

I help run a consultant-led hypertension and blood pressure tertiary service here at Barts. We have a particular interest in secondary hypertension, autonomic vascular disorders and medication intolerance. I also have an active research career at the William Harvey Research Institute in cardiovascular disease and am heavily involved in the training in medicines safety and therapeutics for our local undergraduate MBBS course.

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy the mix of my working week which allows me to work with such varied folk, from science and medical students, basic and clinical scientists, clinicians and healthcare professionals all pulling in the same direction to achieve advances in medicine and run a safe and top-notch NHS.

Why is medicines management so important?

As I said earlier, we prescribe and dispense medications more than any other healthcare intervention. We do this to make patients feel better and live healthy longer. Therefore, it is imperative that we eliminate any errors in our processes in this that could reduce the benefit or cause harm.

What steps can staff take to make sure medicines are managed more safely?

We know from snapshot audits that we receive far less Datix alerts relating to medicines incidents than we should. This is a trust priority to increase the number of reports whilst reducing the overall number of serious incidents. Although the Datix process is lengthy, we need to change the attitude and working patters to consider this part of normal working rather that something that is extra at the end of a shift so that we encourage more accurate reporting and we can make differences to the process if we know what is going wrong.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Recently, I was awarded FRCP (fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians) which was a lovely surprise and honour.

What has been your biggest challenge?

I think the culture at Barts Health is changing for the better but there is still sometimes a reluctance to change and innovate. These processes are time-intensive initially and I think there is often a lack of clear communication of the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how/when’ that fails to get full staff buy-in. As I said, this is definitely getting better over the past decade I have been here but there is some way still to go.

What one thing would make Barts Health a better place in which to work?

The free ice-cream truck we had in the Barts quad for the NHS 70th birthday was very popular – I hope that the other sites were similarly provided for and making this a regular sight in the summer months would be a lovely way for senior management to say thank you to staff on a regular basis.

How would you spend an ideal day off?

I've just spent a lovely week in Devon with my kids playing beach cricket and building dams on the sands – would go back in a flash.

Tell us something surprising about yourself

I spent my 40th birthday at Peppa Pig World– with my kids of course! – last weekend and loved it, especially George’s dinosaur ride.


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