Miracle Hospital 2: St Vincent’s Hospital at the cutting edge

Dr Guy Skinner, now a TV star. Photo: supplied

Dr Guy Skinner, now a TV star. Photo: supplied

Dr Guy Skinner knows there is a precise choreography among staff members working in surgical theatre.

Adding a camera crew into the mix noticeably changes the tempo.

“You are aware of them,” says Dr Skinner, a Melbourne obstetrician and gynaecologist who appears in the new Australian series Miracle Hospital 2.

Filmed for the National Geographic channel on Foxtel, it shows the intense and, yes, often miraculous procedures which take place in surgery.

“Working in the standard environment every week, it’s so controlled in operating theatres, everything is the same set-up week in and week out, we usually have the same staff, senior nursing staff and anaesthetist,” he says.

“So it is unusual to have four or five people in a crew moving around them.”

Dr Skinner is one of the top specialists who appears in the medical series which explores the inner workings of complex procedures at St Vincent’s hospitals in Melbourne and Sydney.

This particular series hones in on new advances in medical technology.

“What the Nat Geo series has done is really screwed into what’s current,” says Dr Skinner. “They’re actually showing the leading stuff, what is actually real in Australian medicine these days.”

It takes confidence to be at the top of your game in the medical profession but Dr Skinner, who is in high demand among Melbourne’s pregnant population, admits to some nerves when being filmed for the series.

“You desperately don’t want it to go wrong,” he says. “You know, most of the situations which the Nat Geo team are in [filming] are all complex. The one I was in … it could have gone wrong in minutes and you can’t just say ‘OK, guys, please leave the theatre’.

“In an ironic way, they also want to capture the real world, being good or bad,” he says.

“In our situation it could have gone awfully bad, awfully quickly, our issue was very time critical,” Dr Skinner, of the procedure on his patient who was heavily pregnant while suffering from a large fibroid blocking her birth canal.

In surgery filmed for the series, Dr Skinner performed a caesarean which took the baby from the top of the patient’s uterus.

“She had this big tumour, bigger than a football, filling her whole pelvis … the baby was up near the ribcage so we had to go up underneath her ribcage and get that baby out of the top,” he says.

“It is enormously gratifying to help people like this who are in difficult situations.”

The seven-part series features an array of specialists from both leading hospitals tackling some of their most difficult cases, with some even using robotic technology and 3D printing of body parts for medical procedures.

Apart from the general interest of television viewers, Dr Skinner said there is also an educational element to the series for junior and trainee doctors.

“I guess they’ve tried to pick out areas at the top end of the field, this is stuff that is at the leading edge,” he says. “The case we had was very rare and very difficult but I think all the other areas [shown in the series] are the same.”

“There’s a hell of lot of doctors in training and a lot of junior doctors and they see the routine stuff, the mundane stuff,  you know we’ve seen for the last 20 or 30 years, so they want to come and see some of the exciting, hard stuff,” Dr Skinner says.

Despite a positive culture of education and observation at St Vincent’s in Melbourne and Sydney, this time students weren’t allowed in because of the camera crews, so the television documentary itself will provide an educational element.

“They’ll probably enjoy, from that perspective, seeing some of the cutting-edge stuff that we do,” Dr Skinner says.

  • Miracle Hospital 2, Saturdays 7.30pm on Foxtel’s National Geographic channel.
  • Also available via video-on-demand (Foxtel and Fetch) and the National Geographic App.

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