dr sarah blakey paediatric siteDr Sarah Blakey

I'm Sarah, currently working in Taunton as an ST4. I have an interest in Global Health, Paediatric Emergency Medicine and Simulation. I am really pleased to be able to be your point of contact for Return to Training (RTT) for the Deanery. I have had first hand experience of how useful the RTT policies were in coming back into training full time after a period away. After ST3, I took a year of OOPE to work for the RCPCH Global Links Programme in Sierra Leone. Despite doing a lot of clinical work whilst abroad, coming back into an NHS Training Job felt quite daunting. Fortunately, I was able to work through a plan with my supervisor and have a period of supernumerary practice before working on call. It made the transition much easier and I would happy to support any trainees who have questions or have been out of training for a variety of reasons.


Dr Beth Osmond

Now Consultant (previous GRID trainee in Neonatal Medicine training Less Than Full Time (LTFT)

I am training to be a neonatologist, rotating between the two large neonatal units in Bristol – Southmead and St Michaels. These offer great exposure to a wide range of common and rare conditions in babies.

I am training less than full time and have two small boys. I work on average 3 shifts a week (60% of full time hours). I spend half my week being a mum of young children and doing the normal activities, play groups etc that this entails, and the other half working in the neonatal unit. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to continue in a job I love since having children. There’s also lots of scope within the deanery to get involved with non clinical activities such as research and teaching which are really enjoyable.

The deanery is very supportive of less than full time training. I can honestly say it has been very straight forward converting from my full time post. There is a good network of less than full time trainees (and we are not all women and not everyone has children). We have an online network to share tips and have met up socially. We are represented at the deanery and have a Less than Full Time Training Advisor to ensure our training needs are met.

My husband is also working part time and we share much of the childcare, I also currently use the hospital nursery which has been wonderful and we are lucky to have help from family close by.

Choosing to work part time is always going to involve compromise, both at home and at work. It obviously takes significantly longer to achieve the necessary clinical competencies and complete the programme, however there are benefits of a longer training period with more time to decide what you really want to do and build up a good cv. Shift work actually lends itself to part time training and developing skills of good handover and time management are essential in any job these days.

Balancing work and childcare from various sources demonstrates the excellent organisational skills of less than full time trainees! My children are lucky to have a lot of time with their dad, and he values being able to take a very active role in day to day family life.

So if you are thinking about joining the deanery and working in paediatrics I can thoroughly recommend the training. And if you want to work part time now, or in the future I would say go for it!


Andy Young

Current ST2

I am a paediatric ST2 with an interest in global child health and medical education.

Starting paediatric training can be a daunting experience. After establishing a level of competency in adult medicine through the foundation programme, it can feel like starting from scratch all over again. The Severn paediatric training programme allows for this by providing 12 months of core experience in a district general hospital. I was well supported during my placements in general paediatrics and neonatal intensive care at the Musgrove Park Hospital. The consultants, registrars and senior nurses were keen to teach, share experiences and supervise my learning so that I felt my competencies in paediatrics expanded rapidly, but safely. Now as a ST2, I am continuing my training in Bristol and I feel I have a solid base of skills and knowledge to build upon. I would recommend Severn for anyone starting out a career in paediatrics.

Dr Laura Hole

Now Consultant Paediatrician in Gloucester

I am currently an ST6 Trainee and have worked in paediatrics in Severn since 2004. I graduated from Nottingham University in 2001. I was firstly seduced by the lifestyle that the South-West has to offer and subsequently have been lucky to learn that my happiness at work and training needs would certainly not be compromised as a result. I was initially an ‘old-fashioned SHO’ and following the completion of my rotation from Gloucester, Cheltenham, St Michael’s and Bristol Children’s Hospital I spent a year as a middle grade in Taunton and the Children’s Hospital prior to commencing run-through training.

The rotations available in Severn enable the trainee to have exposure to a huge range of clinical specialities. There are a number of district general hospitals offering excellent grounding in general paediatrics. The Children’s hospital in Bristol offers all major clinical sub-specialties and the ability to continue working on the National GRID within these specialties. Bristol also provides two Level 3 neonatal units, tertiary experience in neurosurgery and burns and a large PICU that looks after cardiac and general patients.

My career intention is to be a general paediatrician with a clinical interest in respiratory and acute paediatrics. During my level 3 training I have therefore been able to concentrate on this by working in the respiratory department, PICU and the Emergency department. I also have interests in education and teaching. With regards to teaching I am currently studying for the teaching certificate, Teaching and Learning for Health Professionals which is available at the University of Bristol. I am also an APLS and NLS instructor. I am proud to be able to represent my colleagues at the RCPCH as the South-Western representative on the Trainees’ Committee and represent trainees nationally on the E-portfolio Management committee. I also represent the ST4-8/SpR trainees on the paediatric School Board. It would be unrealistic to expect that training in Severn is perfect but any trainee concerns I have raised have always been listened to and acted on promptly. There have been many challenges to training in all specialties and the school has been flexible and innovative throughout this difficult time. The School Board has high expectations of the hospitals in the region and quality assurance of training is a priority. My educational supervisors have always been supportive of my training need , helped me to plan study leave and supported me in clinical governance and research projects.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to live in Bristol and commute to all parts of the rotation which is true of most of Severn. It is truly a fantastic city to live in and I’ve made some great friends (mostly at work!) Like many of my colleagues, now I’m here I really don’t ever want to leave!


Dr James Seddon

Now grid trainee in Paediatric Infectious Diseases in London

I arrived in the Severn Deanery in 2007 and spent two excellent years working at Gloucester and Cheltenham as a paediatric registrar - fun, well-supported, interesting patient mix, excellent colleagues and good facilities. As a trainee, the Severn Deanery is a unique place as it not only boasts some of the finest district general hospitals in the country but also a state-of-the-art specialist children’s hospital. Bristol as a city is amazing – large enough to have everything that could be offered but small enough to be manageable, intimate and friendly. You are situated within striking distance of the mountains of South Wales and the delights of the West Country. However, you are also pretty close to London, Birmingham and the rest of the country. Bristol is a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and excellent mountain biking and hiking are right on your doorstep. The rest of the towns in the region are fun and friendly and the Cotswolds are easily accessible.

I trained at Cambridge and Imperial and after a year in Australia undertook my Senior House Officer training in London. Following that, I spent nine months with Médecins San Frontières doing some relief medicine in Côte D’Ivoire and three months as an expedition doctor in Patagonia. I am currently in Cape Town studying for a PhD and looking into paediatric multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. The Severn Deanery has been very supportive of my slightly unconventional career path and I am looking forward to returning to the deanery to complete my paediatric training when I have finished my PhD. Ultimately I would like to work in paediatric Infectious Diseases and International Child Health.


Dr Dan Magnus

Now finished training in Paediatric Emergency Medicine and on a year working in Toronto

Severn Deanery Paediatrics. Just Do It.

I am a year 4 paediatrics trainee here in the Severn Deanery and if I am honest I would have to testify to the fact that I ended up both living here and doing paediatrics largely by chance. When I first moved to the region I wasn’t sure what to expect but I can now safely say that there is nowhere in the UK that I would rather live. Similarly paediatrics was not “something I always knew I wanted to do” but it is the most wonderful speciality, there is nothing else I would rather do and the Severn Deanery is the most fantastic place in which to do it.

For those who seek it here you will find in the Severn Deanery something akin to a large extended family. There is a close knit community of trainees, consultants and deanery leadership who, if accessed properly, can provide a wealth of experience and expertise, support and advice, training and guidance. There is also a good social network and the opportunity to make good friends and colleagues who will be with you for the duration of your training.

My special interest is in Global Child Health and alongside my clinical commitments in paediatrics I run a charity supporting programmes for orphans and vulnerable children in east Africa and also lead the Unit for Maternal and Child Health on the International Health BSc at Bristol University. These commitments are a challenge but the Severn Deanery has been supportive in allowing me the time to pursue my interests and there are many opportunities locally for people with an interest in global health.

We have been able to take doctors and nurses from the deanery over to Africa to run rural medical camps and programmes of education and training and the chair of the International Child Health Group for the RCPCH is currently in Bristol. I am looking at expanding global health in the undergraduate medical curriculum, forging my own research interests in global child health and looking forward to the development of global child health as a discrete special interest/speciality in the region. These are all made possible by a deanery that allows and nurtures this kind of ambition.

The hospitals in the deanery are largely of a very high standard and are enjoyable places to work. Of course there are challenges as in all training regions but overall you will find an ethos that promotes good training and teaching for those who want it as well as a culture of openness, dialogue and discussion to facilitate the best possible development for trainees.

On a personal level it is mostly good fun and a sense of belonging that I would recommend most highly about paediatrics in this part of the country. I wake up nearly every day and feel excited about going to work. I have shared laughs, giggles and the occasional tear with the teams with whom I have worked and I feel like I am part of a paediatric community are mostly all pulling in the same direction. High quality and enjoyable training in a beautiful part of the country is what paediatrics here means to me. Add to that Balloon fiestas, stunning historic towns, lush countryside, outdoor activities and culture and nightlife and you have the recipe for an ideal setting for the ideal speciality.

Dr Dan Magnus
Specialist Trainee Paediatrics, Severn
Unit Lead Maternal and Child Health, Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, University of Bristol
KOP Co-Founder and Trustee


Dr Sam O'Hare

Now Consultant Neonatologist in Cambridge

I came to the Southwest region from Nottingham in 2002 to start my Paediatric SHO training. After jobs in Taunton and Yeovil I moved up to Bristol and have never really left! After my SHO rotation and a middle grade neonatal post I fancied a change, but knew I wanted to come back to Bristol for Registrar training. I went travelling in South America for 3 months and then spent a fantastic year working in Christchurch, New Zealand. On return, I did core Registrar training in Gloucester and Cheltenham hospitals (a manageable commute from Bristol) and am now back in Bristol working in paediatric intensive care. After a scary interview at the RCPCH I managed to get one of the Neonatal GRID training posts in Bristol so am now destined to become a Neonatologist!

The Southwest is a very friendly region and people are always on hand to help if you need advice and support. Most Consultants are very approachable and genuinely interested in you as a person - the region has a small feel and you soon get to know your fellow trainees. There are lots of opportunities to develop professionally - many of us have done teaching and/or instructor training and I am in the final stages of a 2 year MSc in Health Care Ethics and Law with the University of Bristol. This has been hard work, but very interesting and a very different challenge to my everyday work.

It's certainly not all work in the South West though! Part of the appeal for me is that Bristol has the best of both worlds - it is a vibrant city with lots going on (plenty of music events, theatre, great shopping and there is a general buzz about the place!) Geographically it is great too - less than 2 hours from London and with Devon and Cornwall on the doorstep there are some lovely places to get away during those weekends off! Work/life balance is very important in medicine - I've recently joined the Bristol Musical Comedy Club and took part in their production of Guys and Dolls. Whatever you enjoy doing, you'll find opportunities to do it in the Southwest and I couldn't recommend it highly enough as a place to live and work! So come and join us - you won't regret it!!


Hannah Hayden imageDr Hannah Hayden

Currently ST3

A career in paediatrics opens up a world of opportunities in the UK and around the world! I am a paediatric trainee and am currently between ST3 and ST4. I have taken time out of the training programme on an out of programme experience (OOPE) to volunteer with the RCPCH Global Links programme in Kenya. In the future I hope to pursue a career in neonatology or intensive care medicine although I still have time to decide!

My experience in Kenya has given me exposure to illnesses and situations that I would be unlikely to see in the UK from cases of rabies and severe acute malnutrition to giving health promotion to remote Masai villages.  It has allowed me to develop my clinical skills in procedures as well as managing unfamiliar cases and lots of emergencies. In addition to improving my clinical skills, my experience has given me the opportunity to develop my interpersonal skills including communication with other cultures, has improved my leadership and management skills and helped me to develop skills in diplomacy; all of which will be invaluable as my career progresses.

One of the best parts of my time spent out of training has been designing and working on quality improvement projects in the hospital in which I am working. My most successful project so far has been implementing a hand hygiene programme and teaching the local staff how to carry out an audit in the hope that the programme will be sustained. I have also enjoyed participating in an Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment+ (ETAT+) course and a Generic Instructor Course and have used the skills I have acquired to run low fidelity simulations as part of paediatric teaching for healthcare staff. I hope that this will lead to further opportunities in training others on ETAT+ thus continuing my involvement in global child health.

As well as expanding my horizons in paediatrics, having an OOPE has given me chance to travel in my spare time and pursue my love of wildlife, photography and writing. I have also met many fascinating people with interesting stories to tell who have inspired me, kept me motivated and given me great ideas that will no doubt enhance my career in the future. Most significantly, the time spent out of programme has increased my confidence as a doctor as well as on a personal level.

Severn PGME has been supportive of my out of programme placement with Global Links and helped me to overcome the challenges faced when arranging to take time out of training. Initially the process of taking time out of training can be daunting especially when all your friends are continuing with training. However, the experience can really help you to shape and develop your interests and enable you to do something out of the ordinary as well as do a little bit to improve child health wherever in the world that may be.


heather dysonDr Heather Dyson

My name is Heather Dyson and I have been a specialist paediatric trainee within Severn PGME since 2008. I am currently on a two year OOPE (out of programme experience) and now working for the Welbodi Partnership in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This is a combined clinical and development role with part of my week as a clinical doctor at the Ola During children's hospital and the majority of the role setting up a paediatric doctor training school. Prior to this I completed my tropical medicine diploma in East Africa through the London school of tropical medicine and hygiene and worked as a paediatrician in rural Zambia. I would absolutely recommend taking time within training for out of programme experience as I feel I have gained huge amounts of experience and have a broader outlook on health which I feel with be invaluable in my future career.


Dr Rob Spaull Paediatric neurologyDr Rob Spaull

GRID trainee in paediatric neurology

I moved to Bristol to train in paediatrics in the Severn deanery in 2012 with my wife, also a paediatric registrar, not having lived here before. We chose the South West for its combination of good training and being a great place to live, which have both proven true.

Severn benefits from large district general hospitals and a busy and active specialist paediatric hospital in Bristol. I spent my first SHO and registrar years at Gloucester Royal Hospital, which is a busy but supportive training environment. This gave me a strong grounding in general paediatrics and neonatology which benefited me through my Bristol rotations through neurology, neonatology at Southmead and St Michael’s hospitals, and intensive care.

My time in research-active neonatal units spurred me to pursue research alongside clinical training. During the past 4 years I have run a clinical study analysing cerebrospinal fluid from preterm infants, initially supported by seed funding from the David Telling Charitable Trust, and then with 6 months out of programme with the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute Clinical Primer from the University of Bristol. I have felt very fortunate for this support which has allowed me to present work to international conferences, publish papers, and successfully apply for further funding. The links with research-active universities in the South West is another strength for Severn; in particular, the link with the Bristol Medical School is close, and I enjoy being a professional mentor to students through their course, and teaching during their paediatric rotations.

Bristol supports most of the possible subspecialty training options (known as the National GRID) and following my time in neurology as an SHO I was set on this course, happily gaining a training post to continue in Bristol. Within paediatric neurology Bristol has a large and enthusiastic team, with multiple regional and supra-regional specialisations that are rare to find outside of London.

Bristol is in a Goldilocks’ zone geographically – close enough to London to travel in a day, but far enough away that families need highly specialised integrated services nearby, all while being close to many beautiful holiday locations. There are always hurdles and difficulties in medicine, ups and downs, but colleagues, hospitals, and the deanery are all supportive of trainees and show admirable flexibility. The RCPCH has generally been ahead of other specialties in embracing change, most recently with allowing 80% less than full time training. My wife and I have both thoroughly enjoyed our time in paediatrics in Severn and recommend both the specialty and location to anyone considering it.


Naveen Mohanraj paediatric siteNaveen Mohanraj

I am an ST7 general paediatric trainee with special interest in Epilepsy. I always wanted to become a paediatrician like my dad. I did my medical school and 3 years of core paediatric training in India before coming to the UK for a 2 year neonatal fellowship with the Oxford Deanery. Since I liked working in the NHS, post fellowship, I applied to enter into paediatric training at ST4 level and was successful. I ranked my preferences based on geographical location as I had no idea about any of the deaneries apart from Oxford. To be honest, Severn was only my 3rd or 4th choice and it was on my list only because I wanted to live somewhere in the southwest. I did not have any family or friends in this region and moving here with a young family initially felt like a scary adventure! In fact I was planning to go back to India if I did not feel comfortable in my training. However, here I am, 4 years into training with just over a year left and so glad that I decided to stay. I have been really lucky to have gotten into Severn deanery and if given an option to rank my training locations again, Severn would be my first choice without a doubt. The paediatric training especially is very supportive taking into consideration both the training needs and personal situation. I have had very good support with my SPIN (special interest) epilepsy training specifically from my paediatric department at Musgrove park Hospital taking extra effort by allocating extra clinic time in the rota and providing excellent clinical and educational supervision. I have recently been given approval for 80% less than full time training which gives me a great work life balance. The deanery is also a relatively smaller one hence commuting between hospitals is very much practically doable without breaking one’s back. I live in Taunton which has very good rail and road connections which makes my commute to tertiary units at Bristol manageable. As a place, Taunton is a lovely town to bring up family with good schools around. It is less than an hour from Bristol if one needs a vibrant day out and also London is 2hrs by train. There are plenty of scenic beaches very close by for a great family weekend outing. If you are planning to train in paediatrics in the Severn deanery – Just go for it. I couldn’t recommend it enough.