Spotlight on chronic pain

De NegriThis month we catch up with Dr De Negri, an Italian trained Chronic Pain consultant who has created his own EPP (Excellence in Pain Practice) Awarded clinic in the Italian town of Rionero in Vulture.

Dr De Negri talks about his experiences as a first time locum doctor in the UK and specialist anaesthetics recruitment consultant David Clifford shares his industry insights.

How did you begin your specialist career?

Dr De Negri: “I began in my speciality in Italy in 1981 with an internship in Anaesthesiology and Intensive care. As part of my training I covered Surgery and ICU Intensivist work which gave me experience in dealing with a lot with different types of pain. In 1995 I decided that I wanted to specialise further into the field of Chronic Pain. Training was tough, there was a lot to understand and take in but I enjoyed a challenge”.

David would you say that this is a normal training route?

David Clifford: “I have noticed a trend where Chronic Pain doctors tend to have an ICU background moving from Acute Pain to Chronic Pain. Many doctors say they got fed up with the rush and ‘bed politics’ but enjoyed the challenge and so preferred working with patients on a more long term basis”.

Dr De Negri why did you decide to specialise in chronic pain?

Dr De Negri: “In Italy Lung cancer affects a lot of elderly people and I wanted to help them as best I could. I didn’t like the fact that these fragile people were suffering with chronic pain. The Pain can start one day and never end.

I often tell my patients that beginning a treatment plan is like entering into a marriage. Both sides have to be committed to the treatment and work together to see it through. Honesty is a big factor, they need to be open. Often you remain in their lives for the long-term so you build very close working relationships. I like being able to help improve their quality of life”.

Some hospitals prefer to cancel Chronic Pain appointments rather than bring in a Locum. What are your views on this?

Dr De Negri: “The problem with pain is that it’s not considered a problem until the pain appears. I know that some patients like consistency but it’s good if they also have the option to see a locum specialist in an emergency or if their regular appointment is cancelled. There are obviously financial implications for the hospital but and if sessions are cancelled the patient could be suffering unbearable pain until their next appointment which must be terrible for them”.

David Clifford: “Chronic Pain is a complex invisible illness that is still being explored, and is still not yet fully understood. Many chronic pain sufferers go from one doctor to the next searching for explanations, even going outside of the healthcare system and seek non-conventional medical assistance. This can lead to incorrect or unnecessary evaluations and treatments, leading to a risk for the patient actually being harmed or having their pain increased.

It has been known in some cases, patients feel like they have to prove their pain to their friends, family and doctors. Some patients are told by their doctor that there is no reason for them to be in pain and therefore have none. This can lead to feelings such as hopelessness, fear, irritability, anxiety, and stress and often ending in depression.

I think locum roles play a really fundamental part in helping to alleviate the pressure on Chronic Pain departments in the UK and the work that experts like Dr De Negrido is a vital service for people in need. I’m proud to be able to support the career aspirations of the locum doctors I work with as well as the departments in need of our assistance”.

Dr De Negri how was your first experience working with RIG Locums and being a locum in the UK?

Dr De Negri: “In the UK they manage jobs quite differently from the US or Italy and I found the lack of support a challenge to begin with as I was working on my own in a new place and country but the staff were lovely, the doctors, nurses and everyone really looked after me, they were all very nice.

After this experience, I would definitely consider working in the UK again. I would recommend that first timers get advice from RIG Locums because they helped me solve all the issues a beginner faces, such as the paperwork (i.e. DBS certificate) as well as finding and advising you for the right placement. I also found getting registered with the GMC was very easy and well organised

With other agencies I was told that I would have to drop a grade from locum Consultant  to Middle grade locum to secure my first placement in the UK but with RIG Locums help this wasn’t necessary. I’m in my mid 50s now and have spent many years working to this level so I wouldn’t have gone backwards like that”.

David Clifford:  “It is a big trend for the majority of Doctors to start off at a lower grade, this helps them if they are not as confident as they would like to be with their verbal English language skills. The drugs and General running of UK departments can also take some getting used to. I have found it can vary in time for each inpidual to get to the grade they worked at in their previous role. Locum jobs are a fantastic way to get a foot in the door for anyone wanting to work in the UK either as a substantive or a Career locum.

Dr De Negri is this your first time working outside of your home country?

Dr De Negri: “No, I have worked in Belgium before and completed an interventional fellowship in the United States. Last November I was in the UK for an honouree fellowship; a clinical attachment. After that I decided to apply for an NHS hospital vacancy and I tried with one in London and another in Manchester. In the first instance I wasn’t successful and in the second I felt dissatisfied with the level of treatment and opportunities they offered for their patients.

I went back to Italy and registered with a medical agency but over the last 3 years they’ve called me 10 times but never found me anything suitable. My new recruitment consultant at RIG Locums was able to find me exactly what I was looking for. I’ve really enjoyed working with RIG Locums, they know what they are doing as a medical employment agency. It’s been fascinating doing locum doctor work but I have my own practice in Italy and running this takes up the majority of my time. I only came for a short-term locum experience. Next time I come to the UK for locum work I aim to experience working in a busy clinic to focus on IR intervention techniques”.

As Dr De Negri has shown, a locum opportunity is an ideal way of experiencing working life in the UK without making a full –time commitment to move. Locum work can also provide an insight into different ways of managing and treating illnesses.

Dr De Negri tells a compelling story of his experience as a specialist in chronic pain. It’s fascinating to hear of doctors around the world who gain a true sense of purpose from their profession and how they manage their lives around it. We are very proud to have represented Dr De Negri and hope to continue to do so as long as we can. If you’re a doctor looking to find a locum placement in the UK to fit around personal or career commitments, then please get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today.

Article published by Samantha Elgie, Marketing Manager, RIG Locums Limited