Paul Southern, consultant hepatologist and dynamic CCIO at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS FT, died suddenly last month.
Two of his colleagues, who worked closely with him, recall some of their fond memories of working with Paul and his many contributions to staff and patients at Bradford.
Dave Griffith on Paul
Dave Griffith, informatics programme manager at Bradford who worked closely with Paul for over ten years, shares some of his recollections:
Paul Southern was the first deputy chair of the Going Digital Programme Board when we started out in November 2011, although his title at that point was “just” Consultant Hepatologist, he was Associate Medical Director, Medical Informatics by June 2013.
Remarkably, he went through 3 EPRs with us (Lorenzo, Best of Breed and then Cerner Millennium).
In March 2011 we held an informatics strategy workshop where we invited representatives from all clinical areas. All of the presentations had completely expected titles, except one, which was titled ‘What it’s like for us – A clinician’s perspective (secret diary of a hepatologist aged 38 ¾)’. I’ll leave you to guess whose that was!
He was also the person who supported informatics and hospital teams when there was a problem: a data centre power outage and letters not sent are just two that spring to mind.
He’d be the person who almost instinctively knew how an issue could be resolved, acted as a shield to the people fixing the problem and kept everybody’s spirits up to get the problem fixed as quickly as possible.
Paul will be hugely missed and remain immensely admired.
Paul Rice on Paul
Paul Rice, chief digital and information officer at both Bradford and neighbouring trust Airedale shares his memories of Paul:
Paul Southern, who tragically was taken from us earlier this week aged 50, was an informatics titan, and someone I had the privilege to call a friend.
He was a hepatologist whose clinical expertise was widely acknowledged paired with the quieter, technically adept, steadying hand.
When I moved to Bradford one of my key questions was what flavour of CCIO would I get? Would we gel? Could we get some real work done? Starting in a pandemic presented its own unique challenges, masks, social distancing, windows permanently ajar, freshening West Yorkshire gales gusting through.
I couldn’t have been more fortunate in working with Paul the past two years; he was an exceptional CCIO, hugely knowledgeable and respected and a pleasure to work with.
He was also the first person to call me ‘Ricey’ since the playground. Dr R and Dr S, accidentally thinking the comments on the Teams thread we were sharing were exclusive to us.
I would constantly remind him to go on mute as he multi-tasked frenetically but somehow never missed a beat in the conversation – unerringly like the pick-up song skit from Radio 4’s ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a clue’.
In the informatics sphere there was no one who had a greater understanding of how the Electronic Patient Record worked, its strengths and its limitations.
There was also no one who had a better appreciation than Paul – both technically and critically how it would be used in practice – of everything from the crash cart bleeps to bedside remote monitoring, digital dictation and the 835 carts for Business Continuity Planning.
Whether it was deploying a new capability, or upgrading the system in the wee small hours, Paul would always be there front and centre.
His was the face fronting up the e-learning packages and the shoulder most frequently tapped for a “there is something wrong with my (insert device name here)”, can you just conversation with colleagues on corridors. And then popping up virtually to deliver insights and advice regarding digital transformation to hospitals near and far, banking some vendor credits to support our next change ambition.
Paul was my babel fish communicating and translating to the team when my brain and mouth were running apace and the words were coming faster than the actions were being clearly described and allocated.
At times he would engage his clinical colleagues to judiciously say “no, or not now, or not until we exploit the capabilities we have at our fingertips”. Paul was always focused on how the patients would benefit, never pursuing the next shiny thing for the sake of it.
I don’t know if there is perfect recipe for a CCIO, but if there is Paul came very, very close.
He was taken far, far too soon from his family and will be sorely missed by his colleagues, friends and of course patients.
24 February 2023 @ 12:44
Safe and effective 👍🏻
8 February 2023 @ 15:12
Absolutely shocked. I was privileged to work with Paul on the Lorenzo deployment. His tireless passion for his patients and pragmatic, driven influence on electronic enablement technologies were outstanding but moreover was all of this was delivered with a smile, a supportive word, his precious time and personal connection. A true gent and very sadly missed.
7 February 2023 @ 12:21
I couldn’t believe it when I first heard the news – such a dreadful loss to Bradford, Medicine, Health Informatics and of course his friends and family. Like Dave, I remember Paul with great admiration and fondness – he was a massive friend and ally when I was CIO at Bradford between 2007 and 2013, during the thick of NPfIT. I remember visiting Bradford just after their Cerner go-live, some years after I had left the Trust and Paul showed me so cleverly and succinctly the practical benefits of a digital health record – whilst talking to me he took a call on his mobile from a clinician at St James Hospital in Leeds asking about a patient of Paul’s he had referred to them. He walked over to a workstation on a mobile cart, flashed his proximity card, was automatically logged in to the EPR within a few seconds and was viewing a complete EPR of that patient (Level 5 in old-speak) a few seconds later. I moved away to let them speak in private and a long, clinical discussion ensued. At the end of it, he turned to me and said “Now that would have taken quite a bit longer with a paper record!”. A great man.
6 February 2023 @ 14:11
A fantastic clinician, relentless innovator greatly admired by colleagues, friends and patients alike. I have been fortunate to work with Paul for many years both in gastro and more recently in Hepatology as well across our co-chaired shared care records work . A great friend and will be sorely missed . My sincere condolences to his family .
5 February 2023 @ 16:26
Terrible news. Deepest sympathy to family, friends and colleagues. An exemplary CCIO who was part of the foundation of our new profession. There should be a hall of fame and Paul should be in it.
5 February 2023 @ 15:22
I’m utterly heartbroken. I have been a patient of Dr Southern for over 5 years and his sudden passing was such a shock.
My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, colleagues and other patients. He will be truly missed 💔
4 February 2023 @ 13:17
So sad to here this. I greatly enjoyed working with Paul on the EPR go live in Bradford, and only a few weeks ago was listening to his wisdom on shared EPR deployments.
3 February 2023 @ 15:02
What a lovely tribute. It is those kinds of leaders that keep us coming in every day and enjoying our work.
2 February 2023 @ 15:58
I worked with Paul for several years in this period working on digital collaboration across place. Dave and Paul R (Ricey, love it!) have captured much of what made Paul such a special person. Just knowing that I won’t bump into him on the concourse or when I pop in to Costa is enough to bring a tear to the eye. It was a privilege to know him, he is sorely missed.
2 February 2023 @ 13:02
What a befitting tribute to a wonderful colleague, very touching. My deepest condolences to his family.
2 February 2023 @ 11:40
Like Dave G I had worked with Dr Paul from the same year, albeit sat on the Commissioning side. I guess that was something that bound us both, there were no sides, just patients (and staff of course). One NHS and one agenda – to make things better no matter what challenges and changes faced us.
Another really good egg taken way too soon. Sadly missed and I know we’ll look back each year and acknowledge the force that was Dr Paul. His family and friends should be immensely proud. What a wonderful example to us all.