|Commitment to care|
Close friend and colleague, Colonel Ian Greaves pays tribute to Professor Sir Keith Porter, Chair of the RCSEd’s Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care
Just in case anyone gets the wrong idea form the tone of this article, I am delighted to say at the beginning that Sir Keith is not only alive and well but playing a pivotal role in the management of military personnel injured in service in Afghanistan and enjoying immense personal happiness with Lady Porter and his new daughter.
I was asked to write this piece as I have known (Sir) Keith for getting on 25 years since I was his senior house officer in the days before the Birmingham Accident Hospital – the ‘Acci’ to those who knew and loved it – finally closed down. Keith was seen then as, and remains, the heir of the great pioneers of trauma surgery such as William Gissane. Although an orthopaedic surgeon, there can be no doubt that Keith’s love has always been trauma.
Sir Keith, originally from Swindon, qualified at St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School in 1974 and trained in orthopaedics before being appointed as Consultant in Orthopaedics and Trauma at the Accident Hospital in 1986. Under his guidance, hundreds of Birmingham graduates of a certain age received their introduction to trauma and to A&E in extra shifts in the ‘Acci Casualty’, generating an enthusiasm that many of us have pursued throughout our careers. When the Accident Hospital closed in 1995, Keith moved to Selly Oak Hospital, which became the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) in 2002. The RCDM has recently moved to the new single-site Queen Elizabeth Hospital Development in Edgbaston, fulfilling a plan for Birmingham Health Care more than 30 years old.
"Keith’s contribution to the care of our injured service personnel in Birmingham has been immense"
Keith’s contribution to the care of our injured service personnel in Birmingham has been immense. Managing these patients with challenging and complex needs has been a considerable learning experience for all involved and has truly been a team effort. However, all those involved as patients and carers can be grateful that when the need arose, an individual with his commitment and experience was available.
He is one of the few consultants I have worked for whose commitment to patient care is total. On call nights for the ‘Trauma Team 2’ was an experience that older consultants will remember with fond nostalgia, and one which those younger and less fortunate can only imagine. Suffice it to say that much knowledge was passed on while enjoying a curry with the team. Only in his late fifties did Keith stop doing resident on-call, although, not surprisingly, he replaced this with the longest working days possible. I am sure Keith would not mind when I say that he was a keen advocate of patronage, however unfashionable that might be these days.
Sir Keith is unfailingly loyal and willing to work hard for trainees perceived to be effective and enthusiastic; there are many consultants today who owe much of their success to his support and encouragement. To have impressed him enough to be considered one of Keith’s boys (or girls) is something of which many clinicians are justifiably proud. In addition, the maxim that every clinician must be his patient’s advocate is surely one we forget at our, and their, peril.
As well as an immensely busy clinical practice, Keith founded the Birmingham CARE (Central Accident Resuscitation Emergency) Team, a pioneering pre-hospital care organisation which has introduced many to the challenges of immediate care. He was one of the original founders of Trauma Care, a charity dedicated to trauma education, and has served as Chairman of the British Association for Immediate Care and of the Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care at The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. In the latter capacity he has played a pivotal role in the establishment of pre-hospital medicine as a medical specialty recognised by the GMC. In 2006, he was appointed the country’s first professor of clinical traumatology. He is also Editor of the journal Trauma and co-author or editor of most of the currently available books on pre-hospital care, as well as a range of titles on trauma. Throughout all these activities, Keith’s aim has been to include the broadest range of clinical professionals, and he is correspondingly admired by doctors, nurses and paramedics alike. Ever the enemy of double standards, the second rate and those who put their own advantage before the greater good, Keith has taught many of us how to behave to our patients and to our colleagues.
Just to ensure that he doesn’t sound too good to be true, I can also confirm that Keith has a distinctly unprintable sense of humour and an abiding passion for railways, especially of the steam variety. Since giving up resident on-call, however, he is no longer found fast asleep in conveniently quiet corners on weekend visits to Yorkshire.
When the news broke of Keith Porter’s knighthood, my small son, his godson, asked ‘Do I still call him Uncle Keith, or is it Uncle Sir Keith?’ On the basis of experience to date, I have no doubt that, although justifiably proud, Keith will not change. He could have been knighted for his contributions to trauma surgery, education or pre-hospital care, for his research activity or for his advice to governmental and professional bodies. He was knighted for his contribution to the care of injured service personnel. Well done Keith.
Col Ian Greaves, Defence Consultant Advisor in Emergency Medicine, British Army, Richmond, North Yorkshire