Colin Holburn

Consultant and Clinical Lead for Emergency

SOMETIMES it’s a question of life or death for Emergency Medicine Consultant Colin Holbourn, who deals calmly with every crisis, maintaining a professional service with a very human touch.

As clinical lead for Emergency Medicine for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, Colin is also the Trust’s lead for emergency planning, meaning he steps up in a major incident to co-ordinate the Trust’s response and ensure that the trust is able to continue providing care even in exceptionally challenging situations, and that all patients receive the treatment they need.

He was on duty the time that A&E burned down at Sandwell Hospital in 2002. He recalled: “The priority was to get all the patients and staff out safely, and worry about how it happened later. Rebuilding both the physical department and the staffing team was a big job, but very rewarding.”

The emergency department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and shifts cover round the clock. Colin explained: “One of the great things about emergency medicine is that no shift is typical and that adds to my enjoyment of the speciality. You can’t predict who will be the next patient you see, and with the four hour target we don’t have our patients in the department for very long.

“There is a great team effort involved in meeting the target and my part in it is to make sure that timely decisions are made for patients. It also means that in some instances the patient needs to remain in the Emergency Department longer than four hours if their clinical condition requires it. Providing high quality care for patients is not just a line, it is a mission for us.”

Colin (56) credits the best-selling English Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell with having an influence over his thinking. Questions such as ‘What is the difference between choking and panicking?’ and ‘Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard-but only one variety of ketchup?’ have ignited his imagination.

A qualified pilot, Colin abandons his fear of heights only when he takes to the skies, and likes nothing more than exploring the world through a lens as he is a keen amateur photographer.