As Atlas starts its second-year trading, we meet Darren Gilheaney, a Specialist Medical Engineer, registered with his professional body the Register of Clinical Technologists (RCT).
With a keen interest in research and development, Darren is based at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and has over 15 years’ Medical Engineering experience gained within public health services in both England and Ireland.
Dublin-born and bred Darren always knew he was going to work within the discipline and now specialises in anaesthetics and ventilation.
Darren takes up the story: “I think I was destined to work in Medical Engineering, as I’ve always loved electronics and as my father was a surgical sales rep, there was always medical equipment in the house to play with at the weekend!”
Darren adds, I also worked as a hospital porter to help fund my Electronic Engineering degree in 2003. Here my interest peaked, as I saw the medical equipment working at the coalface and thought; I wonder who manages that – and now I do!”
Stating his career in the Irish Health service as a junior engineer in 2003, Darren gained a role within the NHS in 2009 with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, before moving to Blackpool Victoria Hospital in 2010.
Darren explains: “Medical Engineering honestly isn’t as complicated as you might think. It involves the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes. In a nutshell, my role involves managing medical equipment over its entire life, whilst keeping up to date with emerging technologies through continuous professional development (CPD).”
Medical Engineering seldom provides Darren with an average day, the only constant is his focus on ensuring patients’ interests are the driving force behind any decisions he makes.
Darren says: “My working week is filled with challenges pressures and pride, as I ensure the medical equipment I am given is diagnosed, fixed and returned to service. The most challenging moments are always those that delay patients’ receiving diagnosis, or treatment.
There are times when a fault will mean equipment is unsafe for use and may put the patient, or staff at harm. It is in these situations that having a good rapport with the clinical staff is essential, as they regularly ask for technical advice on whether to cancel patient lists – often while the patients are sitting in the waiting rooms worked up for their appointment.
To recommend from an engineering perspective that patients be cancelled is never nice, but it is in the patient’s best interest, even if they don’t realise it, my primacy will always be the patient.”
Darren’s pride shines through and he tells of his proudest moment as a medical engineer: “Back home in Ireland, I was called to theatre as a diathermy had failed halfway through a case.
After scrubbing up and going in to theatre, I managed to diagnose and repair the fault while the surgical team waited with the anaesthetised patient on the table.”
Darren continues: “Afterwards the surgeon came down to me and thanked me for what I had done. If the fault had not been fixed, the operation would have been cancelled and not only let the patient down, but also his team, which was something he didn’t want to have to do.
It is times like that you realise the degree of input we have on patient care.”
Find out more about our Medical Engineering department and the services we offer, here