Stephen Owens has 23 years experience as a health professional, and currently works as a Consultant Paediatrician – Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle.

He treated patients at an Ebola Treatment Centre in Kerrytown in Sierra Leone, helped following a Diphtheria outbreak in Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh and cared for children suffering the complications of measles in Samoa.

Listen to Stephen speak on BBC Radio Merseyside, or read more about his experiences below.

Clinical skills

I’d had one lecture on Ebola as a student at the Liverpool School 20 years ago. It’s very different from attending a lecture and looking at a few slides of people in hazmat suits.

Professionally speaking I’ve seen infections that I’ve never seen or rarely seen before, which meant that I can teach about those infections with some authority.

COVID-19 and quality improvements

Explaining the epidemiology of COVID-19 to staff at the Paediatric unit helped teams to prepare for the realities of working in an outbreak and the knock-on effects, including the restricted access to scans, theatres and face-to-face appointments.

I was involved in the publishing of early data around the negative impact of COVID-19 on child safeguarding referrals, enabling our Centre to take a lead role in discussions around parental access and isolation of children and advice around working in PPE for prolonged periods of time.

Samoa 2019. Credit: S Owens

Preparing the NHS for global threats

Someone walking into ED (Emergency Department) today could have been anywhere in the world in the previous 48 hours. And that means that infections and diseases that you read about in textbooks as students and dismiss, actually could be on your doorstep.

That’s never more true now than at any point in human history. We live in a globalised world and our approach to medicine has to reflect that.

“We live in a globalised world and our approach to medicine has to reflect that.”