I arrived in Newcastle 10 years ago, a senior trainee on an inter-deanery transfer with a toddler and a 3 month old baby. I had many months to settle into life in the North East before I had to think about work.
We enjoyed trips to the beach, swimming, splashing in the water play Tyne at the Discovery museum and many afternoons in the park. It was a wonderful introduction to this fabulous Northern city. This region has much to offer a family with outstanding state schools, coast, city and countryside.
I am very much settled in Newcastle from both a professional and personal perspective. I’ve been an ICM/Anaesthesia consultant in Newcastle for 5 years now. I’m fortunate to have fantastic colleagues and the opportunity to practice critical care in a department that looks to the future and strives for excellence.
Many of our trainees work flexibly and combining critical care training with family commitments is entirely possible both as a trainee and afterwards as a consultant.
Consultant in Anaesthesia & Intensive Care Medicine
Having grown up in the North East I knew what a special place it is and the great professional and lifestyle opportunities it affords. From a professional perspective I have always been in awe of the excellent reputations of both the RVI and Freeman Hospitals. So when my dream job at the RVI was advertised in 2013 it was a no-brainer to go for it and return to my spiritual home!
Although I went to school in Newcastle I fled the nest after A-levels to go medical school in Manchester. Having studied French at A-level, Manchester medical school allowed me to use this as part of their European option ERASMUS scheme, so I spent my final year in Lausanne, Switzerland to learn how to snowboard to practice medicine as a house officer. Following my house jobs in Manchester, I stayed in the north west for my Anaesthetic training and completed an advanced Pain fellowship year in 2009 within the same deanery. I had done an intercalated BSc in Psychology as a medical student and Pain medicine complemented this perfectly. During my pain year I became interested in paediatric (chronic) pain as I had encountered challenging situations involving children that no-one really knew how to deal with. This inspired me to seek out specialist training in this area so that I would be able to gain expertise in order to help this vulnerable group of patients. It became clear at this time that the best training for me in this field would have to be abroad so I contacted several paediatric institutions worldwide to investigate. Toronto Sick Kids hospital in Canada offered me a bespoke paediatric pain fellowship that catered to all my learning requirements. I started as their inaugural Paediatric Pain Fellow in 2011 and I am happy to say that the fellowship programme has been running successfully year-on-year ever since. Following this I undertook a fellowship in Paediatric Anaesthesia also at Toronto Sick Kids and a further fellowship in Regional Anaesthesia at Sunnybrook Hospital Toronto before heading home.
Before going abroad for Fellowship, I worked for 6 months as a Locum Consultant at Wythenshawe Hospital in South Manchester. It was my original plan to eventually return to the North West as a substantive consultant but an opportunity came up at the RVI that I could not turn down. The job offered a perfect balance between pain and anaesthesia, as well as the wonderful chance to start up a paediatric chronic pain service from scratch, which was the whole goal of my fellowship abroad. This combined with the pull of family and friends made returning to the North East an obvious choice.
I now work at the RVI Newcastle for anaesthesia and adult pain. Great North Children’s Hospital for paediatric pain services. I also see paediatric pain referrals from the Freeman Paediatric cardiac unit.
My job is very varied so there is never the opportunity to get bored! It is 50% anaesthesia, 50% pain management. My anaesthesia sessions include trauma, regional, paediatrics and emergency on-calls. My pain sessions include both paediatric and adult pain clinics, an interventional pain list and seeing complex paediatric pain in-patients. As well as clinical work I am heavily involved in teaching medical students, paediatric pain at Faculty of Pain Medicine level and research. My work is busy and there is often not much time for anything else but it is immensely rewarding and I work in a tight-knit, friendly team which is invaluable.
The North East is a little bit of a well-kept secret in that it is an amazing and friendly place to work and live, though much of the country are not aware of this. True, the weather is not tropical but it certainly rains less than Manchester and there are many more Sunny if somewhat ‘fresher’ days on the east coast. Quality of life is high with fantastic countryside and beaches a stone’s throw away; and world class options for bars, restaurants and culture. We are not isolated either: we have an international airport; and London is less than 3 hours away and Edinburgh only 90 mins away by train. Bottom line : The North East is an exceptional place to live, work and bring up a family.
Dr Sachin Rastogi
Consultant in Anaesthesia & Pain Management,
Royal Victoria Infirmary
I have met a wide variety of people living in the north-east of England who do not originate from here. The reasons people end up living here are as wide-ranging as the reasons that brought them here in the first instance and it is far more cosmopolitan than you might expect.
Durham and Newcastle Universities attract students from all over the world because of their academic credentials and reputations of good student life. It is not surprising to me that many students choose to stay in the region after their studies.
Why? Quite possibly the same reasons I still live in the north-east some 20 years after first taking a speculative post in Sunderland as a newly accredited anaesthetist from overseas.
I trained in South Africa and spent a further 6 months in paediatric anaesthesia at JCUH (then South Tees) and the RVI before taking up a Consultant post in Sunderland 20 years ago. I have never looked back.
Compared to a great many other regions in the UK the north-east boasts less traffic and congestion, lower population density yet with easy access to the UKs most beautiful areas to explore and enjoy: north Yorkshire, The Lakes and Northumberland with the wilderness of Scotland not much further. Fast rail connections have you in London in 3 hours, Edinburgh in 1½ and York in 45 minutes; a network of accessible regional airports gets you anywhere in the world while local ferries link to Amsterdam and Norway and beyond.
Abundant open space, parks, cycle tracks, walking trails, world class concert halls, museums and historic sites abound and contribute to a diverse quality of life and a work / life balance that you might not expect at first glance. The history of the north is rich and fascinating too: the Vikings, the Romans, the Prince Bishops and the cross-border conflicts. It all happened here.
Give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? You like it and never leave.
Sunderland Royal Hospital
I am from the North East originally and much of my family is still here. I went to Medical School and did all of my training in Anaesthesia in the West Midlands which was great but I chose to return to the North East as a lifestyle choice with a young family. The traffic is much better and rush hour does exist but for a shorter length of time than further south meaning more time is able to be spent at home and less in the car. Access to beautiful countryside and beaches is incredibly easy which is great for entertaining children and getting them much needed fresh air.
I now work and live in Durham which is a compact city with impressive heritage and excellent state schools. There is not the same access to theatre and concerts etc. as there was where I lived before but Newcastle and Sunderland are not that far away with venues where there are large concerts and theatres which host nationally touring performances.
I have found a job which has enabled me to continue to pursue the broad range of interests which I had as a trainee and I work with colleagues who are supportive.
Dr Hannah Whinn
University Hospital of North Durham