The Salus Quartet – Charity Concert

salus-quartet-concert image-10-000-png Name: Dr Stephen Cullen

Event: The Salus Quartet
Charity Concert

Date: 12 November 2016

Time: 7:30pm 

Venue: Queen’s University Belfast

A musical feast in aid of Lifeboxes for Rio!

We’re so delighted to have been chosen as the charity of The Salus Quartet’s upcoming concert to help raise funds for our safer surgery work around the work. This free event will be held in the Great Hall in Lanyon Building at Queen’s University on Saturday 12 November.

We recently caught up with one of the members of this medical string quartet, anaesthetic registrar Dr Stephen Cullen, and this is what we learned.

Why did you choose to raise funds for Lifebox this year?

We chose Lifebox as the charity for this concert because we believe that it is helping to promote safer surgery and anaesthesia throughout the developing world. All the quartet members work in acute healthcare settings and take for granted the ability to measure pulse oximetry, the idea of a person not having this measured when unstable is hard to imagine. I personally found out about this when reading Atul Gawande’s books and also speaking to consultants who take time out of work to provide anaesthesia in parts of Africa. We hope that by running this concert it will raise money, but also help promote Lifebox in Belfast and Northern Ireland.

Do you think physicians in high-resource settings are aware of the extent of the challenges their colleagues face in low-resource settings?

To be honest, I think the majority of physicians are not aware of the challenges faced in low resource settings. It’s something that I had never thought of before reading Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto and also reading about the Lifeboxes for Rio campaign in Anaesthesia News. We are so engrossed with the problems faced within our own healthcare systems we sometimes forget that our challenges are very different from those providing surgery and anaesthesia in low-resource settings.

What difference do you hope that your contribution will make? 

I hope that our contribution will help the Lifeboxes for Rio campaign reach their final target of raising £96,000. We also hope that it will raise the profile of Lifebox amongst surgeons and anaesthetists in Northern Ireland – one member of the quartet is a consultant colorectal surgeon and I myself, am an anaesthetic registrar. The concert will be promoted through local emails and posters as well as on Twitter – hopefully creating some conversation about the charity and who knows, others may think of doing their own fundraising campaigns!

How do you all balance medical and musical careers?

How do I balance my medical career with music? A very understanding wife! It does take effort to find time to rehearse and keep standards up, but I consider this similar to going to the gym or playing sport to help relieve the stress of work. We are all working on call rotas so it takes a lot of forward planning to ensure adequate time for rehearsals and lessons. But to be honest, we all really enjoy making music together and find ourselves fortunate that people will come and listen to us while raising money for various charities!

What does safe surgery/anaesthesia mean to you?

When I hear the word anaesthesia mentioned – safety comes hand in hand. As I am progressing through training and becoming more independent I am beginning to realise the importance of systems to improve patient safety. The work that Lifebox does, helping to promote safer surgery and anaesthesia throughout the developing world is fantastic – a lot of these lessons are important in developed countries, for example not taking the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist for granted. I initially didn’t like the Checklist but experience has taught me using checklists appropriately creates an ‘island of calm’ for the team and helps ensure patient safety!


If you would like to make a donation to Lifeboxes for Rio click here.