A week in the life of Dr Mark Stacey


This week we are featuring a week in the life of Dr Mark Stacey, Associate Dean for the Wales Deanery New Initiatives section. 


Thanks for following our blog ‘A week in the life of Dr Mark Stacey’. We hope the daily updates have given a comprehensive overview of the diversity of Mark’s work; his care of, and commitment to, his patients and colleagues; and his endeavours to improve performance and increase resilience in himself and others.

Today Mark is flying to Scotland for a well-earned break with his son’s family who live in Aberdeen. They will also be celebrating his wife’s birthday.

If you would like to learn more about Mark’s work, you can read his recent paper in the British Medical Journal, 'Practice under pressure: what Neurology can learn from Anaesthesia'. The paper explores the combination of human factors training with stress management strategies and cognitive bias training, The paper has been well received and has an editorial response by Dr David Nicholl, Neurologist at Birmingham City Hospital, who is calling for human factors and cognitive bias training to be embedded within the Neurology curriculum.

In March we will be featuring 'A week in the life of Leona Walsh', Manager of the Deanery's Professional Support Unit. Check back to the blog on 5th March to start following Leona's busy schedule.


Mark had an early start today, leaving the house at 7.30am to cycle to the SSE SWALEC Stadium for the 'Walking the Tightrope' event.

Mark has been working closely with Andy McCann (pictured with Mark, above) of leadership development experts DNA Definitive in the planning of today’s varied agenda. Aimed at doctors, the one day event is focusing on maximising performance through human factors training and improved teaching and learning. Sessions include effective feedback, stress management and leadership, with a common theme of situational challenge and threat.

Steve Eaton MBE, Dr Paul Thomas and Sam Warburton are amongst the keynote speakers and the sessions are largely interactive with the encouragement of sharing of thoughts and opinions of those healthcare professionals in attendance.

The packed itinerary will finish at 5pm, following which Mark will go home and prepare for a two-day trip to Aberdeen to visit family, including his six month old granddaughter, Amélie.


Today sees Mark covering additional cycling miles to accommodate his busy work schedule.

The morning will be spent at Llandough Hospital working on his surgical list, before leaving at around 12:30 to head to the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) at Heath Park where he will lead the labour ward. There is always uncertainty around the number of patients Mark will see at UHW, or how complicated the cases will be. If there are trainees present, Mark will also do a significant amount of context specific training.

As on Monday and Tuesday, Mark will carry out his reviews and follow-ups before leaving at around 18:30. However Mark will not be putting his feet up when he arrives home as he will be doing some ironing and preparing for tomorrow’s maximum performance event ‘Walking the Tightrope’. He will also be cooking a Valentine’s Day meal for his wife, Pam.

Check back to the blog tomorrow for further details on the maximum performance event, including the various themes and inspiring speakers.


Mark faces a longer commute this morning when he cycles to University Hospital Llandough, just outside Penarth. Again it will be a busy day in surgery and Mark will be working closely with colleagues in the treatment of patients on his cancer and spinal lists. Mark commented, “The safety of my patients is determined by the outstanding quality of the teams I work with”.

Mark found time during his busy schedule yesterday afternoon to give an update on his day. He said it had been a beautiful morning for his cycle ride, but freezing. He had spent time with a senior trainee in the morning, then supported a novice trainee with a couple of relatively difficult cases in the afternoon. Mark added, “As experienced doctors we forget how frightening certain aspects of our job are, particularly if one is just starting”.

Today Mark’s day in surgery will end at around 5.30pm then, as yesterday, he will complete reviews, follow ups and check on his patients before leaving the hospital.

This evening Mark will be working on emails, writing and preparing for forthcoming events, including ‘Walking the Tightrope’ which takes place this week at the SSE SWALEC stadium in Cardiff. Seventy delegates are registered for the event, and speakers include Andy McCann (pictured with Mark above) and Steve Eaton MBE. The event will be featured in more detail in Thursday’s blog. 

Check back to the blog tomorrow as we continue to follow Mark through his busy and varied week.


Mark’s role within the New Initiatives team is to develop and deliver medical education initiatives to help trainee doctors in Wales advance their professional skills, thus improving patient safety. He is frequently asked to run courses on human factors, resilience and practical management of the ‘difficult airway’, of which he has extensive clinical experience. Mark often works, and delivers workshops, in collaboration with DNA Definitive, an organisation that delivers quality leadership development training.

Mark is a Consultant Obstetric Anaesthetist, and juggling clinical work with his New Initiatives commitments ensures his week is always varied and challenging. Today, Mark is cycling to work for a 07:45 start at the University Hospital of Wales where, at 08:30, he will start his orthopaedic and general lists. As usual it will be a full day which will not conclude until early evening when he has checked on his patients and followed up anything he needs to review in readiness for another day in surgery tomorrow.

Mark uses many techniques to help him remain resilient and face the challenges of keeping a sense of humour, coping with other demands on work and staying focused. These include the stress bucket technique, the 7 minute workout and meditation. These techniques and many others are detailed in the ‘Bakers Dozen of Mental Toughness’, a toolkit developed by Mark, Elaine Russ of CUREMeDE and Andy McCann of DNA Definitive.

Check back to the blog to find out more about Mark and follow his progress throughout the week.

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