A consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Princess of Wales Hospital has been elected to the prestigious Learned Society of Wales’ Fellowship. Professor Keshav Singhal MBE FRCS is one of 45 new Fellows to be honoured by the Society, which celebrates those who play a significant role in Welsh life.

Prof Singhal has been elected due to his role as a Visiting Professor at the University of South Wales and the overseas links he has helped to forge with USW, as well as his work with a range of medical bodies and community projects. The honour follows Prof Singhal’s MBE, awarded in 2013, for his services to Welsh and Indian communities and for his charity work.

Prof Singhal said: “I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased to be elected as a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. In my role as Visiting Professor at USW, we collaborate internationally, running workshops and courses in India. For the last three years we have run a leadership development course for healthcare professionals overseas, with Professor Martin Steggall, myself and others going out to teach doctors and medical leaders.

“We facilitate collaboration between USW and three Indian universities, and last November we took the health minister, Vaughan Gething, to India to recruit doctors to all health boards in Wales. Last year, 100 were recruited, which was the highest number yet in the training scheme.”

Prof Singhal, who came to Wales in 1996 and is married with two grown up sons, has pioneered hip surgery in which hips are resurfaced with metal, rather than replaced with plastic. He has also saved the NHS millions of pounds by introducing new enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols, halving a patient’s stay in hospital from seven or eight days to three and a half following orthopaedic surgery.

“It’s a joint school that comes in to talk to 20 patients in a group setting, instead of professionals seeing patients individually,” said Prof Singhal. “We also altered the surgery and anaesthetic so there is no nausea afterwards. It’s a number of small steps that, combined together, make a big difference.” The initiative saves £750,000 per year in Bridgend alone and has been rolled out across the UK.

Prof Singhal is a governor of the India Centre in Cardiff, an established Indian community centre with a busy calendar of cross-cultural events, and is on the Welsh Medical Committee. For the last 10 years he has also been chair of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), speaking on behalf of doctor graduates from outside the UK. Recently, he has been involved in talks with the Welsh Government regarding a detailed risk assessment for health professionals of black and minority ethnic backgrounds, in view of the higher risks faced if they contract Covid19.

Although his and colleagues’ workloads have declined significantly during the pandemic, the same workload now takes twice as long. “When we operate, a joint replacement usually takes about two hours but now is taking four, due to the PPE being uncomfortable and difficult to breathe in and all the extra precautions we have to take,” he said. “Things are very different. We are doing a lot of telemedicine and phone consultations and I think these changes will carry on for quite some time.”

Election to the Fellowship takes place following a rigorous examination of a nominee’s achievements in their relevant field. The 45 new Fellows take the Society’s Fellowship to 562 and are due to be formally admitted at the Society’s AGM on May 20, which will be held remotely this year due to Covid19 restrictions.

Fellowship honour for Cwm Taf Morgannwg consultant