BSc Hons, MSc, Principal Clinical Scientist (Audiology),
St Thomas’ Paediatric Hearing Implant Centre,
Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
I am delighted to guest edit this collaboration of various clinical MDTs from across the UK and overseas, giving us an insight into how they operate.
When I was first asked to guest edit this section, we had not yet been hit by COVID-19. However, life as we know it has temporarily changed and so has the way we work. Therefore, my introduction has taken a slightly different slant to what I had originally envisaged.
As a hearing implant team we have had to figure out a different way to hold an MDT, as face-to-face gatherings are no longer allowed. This week our paediatric hearing implant centre held our first virtual MDT. It was a success, but it wasn’t without its challenges. Not only did we need a secure NHS Trust-approved platform, but everyone needed reliable remote access to the MDT information, as well as a mechanism for sharing data visually with each other. In order to make the meeting more manageable, this virtual MDT was carried out with core senior clinicians only who had been briefed by professional key workers about their patients. Perhaps this is something which could continue beyond COVID-19 to improve the efficiency of clinicians’ time (by not requiring the whole team to attend the MDT), but in doing so, it could diminish the invaluable learning experience that an MDT has to offer, especially for the less experienced team members and visiting clinicians. However, we may not all have to be in the same room to have a successful meeting. All in all, our first attempt went well, however our experiences during this unprecedented time will make our team rethink about the flexibility available for MDT operation when we are back up and running as a full service.
The growing number of MDTs, along with the growing number of clinicians who attend them, really show how invaluable the work they do is. It’s such a pleasure to introduce a wide spectrum of MDTs in this issue. Lead Audiologists and Speech and Language Therapists from the Birmingham Paediatric Cochlear Implant team detail the multiple factors apart from hearing loss that need to be considered with the assessment of children for cochlear implantation. From cochlear implants we move onto implantable acoustic devices (IADs). It is so exciting that the world of IADs has really erupted over that last five-to-10 years. For patients with permanent conductive and mixed losses along with patients with sensorineural losses who are difficult to aid traditionally, there are now other device options. Abi Asher, Lead Clinician from the Cambridge team will share the MDT’s structure and decision-making process for potential IAD candidates. Experienced Specialist Clinician and Lecturer in Audiology, Siobhan Brennan, and Speech and Language Therapist, Susanna Goodhart take on the difficult task of trying to streamline services to better manage adults with learning difficulties and hearing loss. Our wonderful audiology team from St Thomas’ Hospital lets us know how to get the best management for children with Down syndrome and hearing loss. Finally, our overseas contributor, Richard Gans, explains how the dizzy patient is assessed by his world-renowned team.
When normal service resumes, I think we’re all going to be a little bit more grateful having our full team around us. Do take care out there everyone.