By Democrat reporter
A doctor from the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow has been recognised with a prestigious award for his work in developing a service for children with breathing problems.
Dr Neil Gibson, pictured right, Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, has received a lifetime achievement award from the British Paediatric Respiratory Society, which aims to improve the health of children with respiratory problems, for his work over the years.
As well as playing a key role in setting up NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s service for the investigation of sleep problems in children, with a focus on breathing, Dr Gibson’s involvement in standard setting and guidelines and dedication to teaching and training has also been recognised by the BPRS.
And while he was honoured to receive the award, Dr Gibson was quick to praise the team effort which has led to Glasgow becoming one of the leading children’s respiratory units in the UK.
He said: “I’m pleased to have been recognised with this award, but it’s not just been me that should be recognised.
“There is a whole team behind this and I was given so much support from people across the hospital, support from the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, support from younger colleagues who were really enthusiastic and we built it up to one of the biggest services from that.
“Very early in my consultant career, there was a funded scheme for staff to get the chance to go and learn and do things that would help develop services. I was given a grant to go across to Stanford University in the USA for a few weeks, to learn about sleep medicine in children, as this was an area where almost nobody was focusing on in the UK.
“I was able to go and do a course there, visit two of the top units, and then bring that back. This helped us build the sleep investigation unit in Glasgow, we were one of the first in the UK to do that for children. I was obviously interested and had the drive to do it, but I was given the chance by Yorkhill at the time, to go and bring back this knowledge. The Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity were also fantastic in helping us purchase the equipment for the monitoring of the children, which allowed us to develop the sleep lab.
“Sleep is really important, it is getting highlighted more now, but if you don’t sleep well it has all sorts of bad effects on your health. And children, particularly with breathing problems, can have problems with their sleep and when they have a bad sleep it has a knock on effect on how they function during the day and on their whole family. If you can help them to sleep better then everyone will benefit.”
During his 27 years as a consultant, Dr Gibson has watched the team of respiratory professionals grow, first at Yorkhill Hospital and now at the Royal Hospital for Children.
From starting out with just two specialists, the service has expanded to a team of more than 60, including six consultants and a team of nurses and physiologists, with strong links with physiotherapists, social workers and psychologists.
Dr Gibson said: “The team are fantastic here, they have meant we have been able to develop Glasgow into one of the leading units in the UK for the investigation of sleep problems, particularly breathing problems in children. It only works because we all work together.
“We have built up the respiratory service and how we can support children, through multiple specialist services. Another area we have been involved in is the increasing use of technology to help support children with breathing at night. To put into context, when we started this, we had around 16 children on machines overnight, we’re now up at about 200. For children that’s a huge service so that’s been another great thing.
“Getting the sleep lab and investigation service set up at Yorkhill and then getting to design how we would have the same facility here in the new hospital has been a career highlight for me.
“I had this passion for developing a service for children with sleep breathing problems, but also for other sleep problems as well. It’s not finished business, but we are proud of our service and others come to us for training and advice. It’s very much a team effort.
“Our department has helped people develop and become specialists in their own right. I have always enjoyed training and teaching. We are helping to drive standards and when I have retired these are the people who continue to build and develop the service.”
Jamie Redfern, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Director of Women’s and Children’s Services, said: “On behalf of everyone at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, I would like to say a huge congratulations to Neil for this achievement. I’m thrilled to see his incredible work, and the work of the entire respiratory team, recognised in this way.
“Our dedicated staff at the Royal Hospital for Children work tirelessly to provide the highest standard of care to our patients and their families and Neil is yet another excellent example of this”.