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LIFE Of DayIn The By Emily Jance Clark

THERE is certainly never a dull moment for Northampton-based surgeon Alistair Jepson. A typical day in the ‘office’ could involve anything from appearing on national TV removing an iron railing from a builder’s thigh to dealing with some of Northampton’s elite sportsmen or women! Not to mention recently operating on Neon’s very own editor Janice Ogle after she suffered a broken wrist!

The father-of two specialises in shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist surgery and his work is divided between NHS commitments at Northampton General Hospital, and a private practice at the BMI Three Shires Hospital.

Neon magazine caught up with the upper limb surgeon to find out more about his life in the theatre!

What challenges do you face on a day to day basis? The biggest challenge I face is that there always seems to be more work to do than my time allows, which sometimes means patients regrettably get their operations cancelled, for example when a major emergency comes in by ambulance, and others referred by their GP have to go on a waiting list.

Could you describe your typical working day? No two days are ever the same and the variety to each day is what makes my job fascinating – from keyhole shoulder operations, through carpal tunnel releases, to finger joint replacements. I can honestly say that I have never been bored at work – hard work and long hours yes….but all thoroughly worth it!

What do you like most about your job? There are two things that give me intense satisfaction - the first of these is the personal satisfaction of having finished an operation and knowing I have done a good job, and the second is the pleasure I see when patients get better at the end of their recovery.

What is the most difficult part of your job? Fitting everything into my day!

What has been the most memorable moment of your career? There have been quite a few memorable moments in my career – delivering my first baby while I was a medical student, my first solo operation – removing an appendix - and most memorably successfully re-attaching someone’s arm following an almost complete amputation from a combine harvester. I equally remember this being one of the hardest and longest operations I have ever done – it took almost fourteen hours, during which time I only had one 20 minute break!

How do you feel when you are about to operate? As I become older and more experienced, the feelings of nervousness are fewer than they used to be, but the array of operations that I do does mean that there are sometimes things that take a little more thought. Sometimes too the unexpected can happen during an operation which means constantly being alert and having to think quickly on my feet.

What is the most unusual case you have had? I recently featured on BBC’s Bizarre ER, when they were filming at Northampton, with a very unusual case of a builder with a railing impaled through his thigh. Fortunately, it proved fairly simple to remove the pole but the consequences of a spike passing so close to the main artery of the leg kept me on my toes, as did the camera crew observing!

What do you do when you are not working? When not working, I like to relax with my family (although even when I’m at home my daughters love to hear what operations their dad has done recently). I also play golf and tennis - badly and infrequently - and I enjoy going to the cinema, theatre, and holidaying. 63



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