The Barnsley Acute Pain Service (APS) has used military know-how to overcome incredible hurdles and achieve a tremendous amount since it was re-established in October 2020.

The service was disbanded 10 years ago and the target was to re-establish it, so improving treatment of acute pain as an inpatient at Barnsley Hospital. Nigel Bullock is the hospital Lead for Acute Pain and also happens to be a Major in the British Army’s 212 Field Hospital (Yorkshire). His military planning expertise was brought to the fore in re-establishing the APS and the team’s principles in doing so were inspired by the now legendary ‘Captain Tom.’

Nigel said his work in the military had helped his own career. “I’ve gained in all kinds of ways such as confidence in public speaking – for example, I gave a presentation at the National Acute Pain Symposium. I’m also now competent in many more computer skills having completed the ECDL while on tour of duty in Iraq, and it has helped my leadership skills as Acute Pain lead at Barnsley Hospital.

“Knowing about strategic planning was invaluable in implementing an Acute Pain Service that had being absent for 10 years in an NHS trust. We work under extreme pressure seeing up to 22 patients to assess with Acute Pain in one shift. We also follow and write Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and use within the NHS the military concept of ‘Mission Command.’

“Working in a team is a military ethos that we can bring to the NHS along with the ability to delegate and instruction/teaching skills.”

Nigel and Sister Stacey Hodgkiss are now providing a comprehensive acute pain service at the Barnsley Trust from Monday to Friday.

Their service development achievements include:

  • Writing and implementing policies in acute pain management
  • Developing administration and monitoring charts for epidurals and Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA).
  • Introducing the Abbey Pain Scale for patients who are cognitively impaired.

Team members are now planning to speak and present at the National Acute Pain Symposium in September. They also aim to present through the NHS Project Futures which is shaping the project profession in the NHS.