A DOCTOR who was at the forefront of fighting Covid-19 in Bradford and whose innovations helped keep more patients alive and out of intensive care said he was “surprised but very happy” to receive an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Dr Thomas Lawton, a critical care and anaesthesia consultant at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded the MBE for his services to the NHS throughout the Coronavirus crisis.
Of particular note was his discovery that some Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) machines could be modified to increase capacity in intensive care and his role as one of the key leaders in getting Bradford ready for the virus.
He also went viral during the summer after running a marathon in a face mask to dispel the myth that masks restrict the amount of oxygen humans can take in while wearing them.
A number of other Bradfordians were also recognised for their work in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, which was initially scheduled to be published in June but was postponed in order to consider nominations for people playing crucial roles during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Lawton, 40, has been a consultant in Bradford since 2014, and lives with his family in Menston.
He said: “It came through on an email so at first I thought it was a prank, I was very surprised but I’m very happy and pleased about it.
“But I also feel a bit guilty because there’s been so many of us doing the work to getting the hospital set up for Covid-19.
“The CPAP discovery was amazing; at the start of the pandemic I was doing a lot of reading and communicating with doctors in China, Iran and Italy and got early signals CPAP might be useful.
“I suggested it and got permission to go ahead, and it was inspiring going around the hospital wards, introducing myself to people I’d never worked with and asking them to totally change how we did things, and them just saying yes.
“That’s what did it for me, the ‘we can do this’ attitude everyone had to do the best for our patients.
“What we were doing at first wasn’t supported by the guidance, but that’s now changed and lots of hospitals have followed what we’re doing in Bradford and switched to our way of doing things.”
He has been made a Member of the British Empire for his efforts during the crisis during which he routinely worked, at a conservative estimate, double his contracted hours. He is also director of AI at Bradford Teaching Hospitals and is clinic lead of the Connected Yorkshire programme.
An avid tracker of international reports and research led him to be one of the early proponents of CPAP, and that providing this in a ward-based setting would allow critical care to focus on sicker, intubated patients.
He recognised oxygen flow might limit the number of CPAP machines that could be used, and saw that community CPAP machines could be modified and not only oversaw the introduction of these machines onto the wards, but also developed 3D printed adaptors to entrain oxygen in case the Trust ran out of commercially produced versions.
Realising Covid-19 may have long term effects, he used his expertise with date to set up a study to evaluate the medium and long-term impact of the virus on survivors’ physical and mental health.
Dr Lawton’s approach found that in Bradford only seven per cent of patients were admitted to intensive care compared with 18 per cent nationally, and fatality rates in Bradford were also lower. His techniques have been copied by hospitals across the country.
A triathlete, who was supposed to be competing at this year’s world championships, Dr Lawton went viral in the summer when he decided to run a marathon from his Menston home to Bradford Royal Infirmary and back, and said the reaction was “bonkers”
He said: “I was very keen on any way to avoid a second wave.
“Staying away from family and friends is hard, but putting a mask on is easy to do to make life safe for people.
“My wife, who is a GP, had been speaking to people who said they wanted to wear a mask but were worried about it – and there was so much disinformation out there at the time about masks reducing oxygen.
“So, I thought I’d run to and from work wearing one to show that it doesn’t affect your oxygen levels and tried to raise some money for the Trussell Trust at the same time.
“It blew up online, I was getting interview requests from Canada, Japan and all sorts of countries, it was bonkers.”
Retired Sergeant Major Mohammad Chin-Chan, who has been awarded the British Empire Medal for fundraising during the pandemic.
Mr Chin-Chan, 64, a 22-year veteran who served in the Duke of Wellington Regiment, raised more than £1,000 and inspired others by running a sub-30-minute 5k around Lister Park every day while fasting during Ramadan.
Also receiving BEMs for their work during Covid are Keighley’s Belinda Marks, Palliative Care Clinical Lead at Bradford District Care Trust, and Shipley’s Matthew Turner, for services to finance and the community of Bradford as operational control manager at Santander UK.
In the non-Covid awards, Otley’s former Yorkshire Water chief executive Richard Flint has been awarded a CBE for services to the water industry and the environment.
OBEs have been awarded to Feversham Primary’s headteacher Muhammad Naveed Idrees for services to education, and Carol O’Brien from Haworth, for services to diversity in the transport industry as a board member at the Road Haulage Association.
Receiving BEMs for services to the community are Menston’s Jane Pratt and Keighley’s Christine Bown, and Rastrick’s Nicholas Watson gets a BEM for services to scouting.
Famous faces honoured with MBEs for their efforts Covid are footballer Marcus Rashford for services to vulnerable children and Joe Wicks for services to fitness and charity.
Non-Covid awards see Sir David Attenborough become a member of the Order of St Michael and St George, and Sir Paul Smith become a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour.
Bake Off’s Mary Berry, actor Maureen Lipman and Leeds Teaching Hospitals chair Linda Pollard become Dames, while Knighthoods are awarded to runner and broadcaster Brendan Foster and actor David Suchet.
Professor Brian Cox, Lorraine Kelly, actor Adrian Lester, ex-rugby star and LGBT activist Gareth Thomas, and former Wales and Lions coach Warren Gatland all receive CBEs.
Gentleman Jack, To Walk Invisible, Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax creator Sally Wainwright receives an OBE, as does former Welsh rugby union captain Alun Wyn Jones.
MBEs are awarded to Yorkshire and England cricketer Darren Gough, rapper Dizzee Rascal, World Women’s Snooker Champion Reanne Evans and curler Eve Muirhead.
The Yorkshire Regiment’s WO Class 1 Simon Patrick, Lt Col James Pearce and Lt Col Anthony Pledger all receive MBEs, while Simon Mason, former Detective Chief Superintendent of North Yorkshire Police and the National Crime Agency receives the Queen’s Police Medal.