Dr Somnath Bagchi, a Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine at the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP), has been nominated for a Make a Difference award with BBC Radio Devon thanks to his work during the pandemic.
Make a Difference was started during the lockdown as an audio and virtual noticeboard, supported by local BBC radio stations, to offer help and support to those who need it. This year, BBC local radio stations have decided to recognise those who provide this help and support and those who make a difference within their community through the Make a Difference awards.
Nominations for the awards are divided up into different subcategories including Volunteer, Community Group, Fundraiser, Carer, Great Neighbour, Key Worker, Environmental, and The Together Award. Dr Somnath has been nominated in the Key Worker category which recognises a “key worker who has gone above and beyond their call of duty to help others”.
Talking about his experience of working during the pandemic, Dr Somnath said: “The pandemic was a new experience and not a pleasant one for everybody. My basic training is in anaesthesia, and then I mostly worked with chronic pain. However, during the pandemic I had to retrain myself to work in a ward environment, seeing patients, treating them, and working in an ITU environment. It is a completely different way of working.
“We had to do all of this while at the same time feeling scared that you were going to contract something and possibly spread it to your family. It was a very challenging job. Even if you were only going to the red ward for a simple procedure, you were apprehensive.
“During the pandemic, I did some night shifts after many years of not doing them. I worked as the anaesthetist with the bleep. I hadn’t done this since I was a consultant, so it felt like a big shock. Years had passed since I last worked in these roles, so I had to reskill myself and relearn any processes that had changed slightly. It was a big learning experience for us all.
“We had to learn how to cope with this new way of working. My father in India also passed away in this period and I could not attend the funeral due to lock down. It was a great loss for me. I learned to take things easy. I realised that sometimes you have to take a step back, analyse the situation and then move forward. We had excellent leadership within the hospital to help us and were provided with lots of training. I was given the choice of where I wanted to work based on my skills which made me feel comfortable and helped me cope. I also have a very supportive family which was beneficial. After all, it was new to everyone, so we didn’t know what to expect.
“Reflecting on the last few years, I wish it never happened. But it did, and we are now better prepared. If something happened in the future, we know what to do and how to do it. We were very scared at the time, but now that we have the vaccine, we are much more confident. I learnt a lot; I learnt to be calmer, to be composed and that you can’t win every time.”
The awards are being judged through a series of rounds. Round one, which has already taken place, decided the final four nominees for each category. This was carried out by a panel of community engagement experts including Charlie Courtenay - Earl of Devon, Dinah Cox OBE - Devon Community Foundation, Nina Parnell - Westbank and Wendy Smith MBE - WellConnected.
Round two will decide the final winners for each category. This will be judged by Mark Ormrod MBE, Jo Pavey MBE, Tonia Couch, Veronica Henry, Monty Halls, Maia Thomas, Toby Gorniak MBE, and Antony Jinman. All finalists from the previous category will be invited to an award ceremony in their region. The award winners of each category will be announced during this ceremony in September 2022.