Dr Susie Shapiro is a consultant haematologist at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and a RDM Principal Investigator.
What did you do that you particularly were proud of during the pandemic?
My name is Dr Susie Shapiro and I am a Consultant Haematologist at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. I sub-specialise in haemostasis and thrombosis; and so all the work that I do is related to venous thromboembolism (VTE) prevention and treatment, anticoagulation, inherited and acquired bleeding disorders. I was awarded an MRC clinical academic research partnership 3 year fellowship in 2019. I was really excited to have the opportunity to build on my research interests, complementing my clinical practice.
I started the fellowship at the beginning of March 2020, and two weeks later, I suspended it for six months, in order to support our clinical team during COVID-19.
- Dr Susie Shapiro
Like everywhere we struggled with staff shortages due to COVID/self-isolation/shielding, but additionally the work of our department significantly increased.
Right at the start of the pandemic, before there was widespread availability for testing, we needed to work rapidly with GPs to arrange safe regular blood tests for monitoring of anticoagulation for more than 4000 people across Oxfordshire. Then as reports started to come in about a very high rate of venous thromboembolism (VTE) associated with COVID, I led a multi-specialty group to agree specific VTE prevention guidelines for patients hospitalised with COVID-19 at OUH, which we shared regionally.
We’ve subsequently revised these guidelines several times as new data has emerged, in order to help patients being admitted to OUH to receive the best evidence-based care possible. With all these changes, it was crucial to keep clinicians informed of risks and changing guidelines and I’ve really enjoyed giving talks both locally and nationally, with Teams/Zoom allowing really wide audiences.
Just as it felt as though things were starting to settle, our team were on the forefront of reviewing and managing patients with life-threatening extensive thrombosis – rapidly found to be a new clinical condition of Vaccine Induced Thrombosis and Thrombocytopaenia (VITT), due to excellent early clinical and scientific communication nationally and internationally.
During this time, I worked with colleagues and medical students to collect data on the VTE and bleeding risk for patients with COVID at OUH in order to help support our local VTE prevention guidelines. We have published this for both our inpatients and the newly developed Covid Virtual Ward Service and we’ve also contributed to national data sets. I also worked with colleagues across haematology and the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre to collect patient samples in order to better understand the underlying mechanisms of COVID induced thrombosis.
More than anything, I feel fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who have put immense effort in keeping our patients as safe and as well cared for as possible despite many personal challenges.
- Dr Susie Shapiro
I also feel very fortunate to have been involved in trials to support best future evidence-based clinical practice and education.
What you are doing to build on this work now that restrictions have been lifted and we’re able to work and study together in-person again?
Coming back to my ‘research’ time post COVID, it was lovely to be able to continue with some of the COVID-related work and build on those collaborations; but it was also great to be able to start spending more time in the lab on my original project of thrombosis risk related to blood cancers, analysing data and bouncing ideas off colleagues and developing proposals.
Trying to ring-fence time to concentrate on research has definitely been a challenge. Because of on-going staff shortages and demand-capacity for thrombosis clinics (partly because of COVID related thromboses) I’ve recently had to re-suspend my research time for another 6 months – the challenge of supporting a specialised clinical service and trying to do research!
However, I’m very much enjoying the diversity of the role and the challenge of trying to get it to work in the future!