Mr Nav Cavale is a consultant plastic surgeon. With six generations of medics behind him, medicine is in his blood. He explains, “My dad was a GP, his dad was a GP, and his dad was a surgeon; then apparently, there were three more!”
Choosing to go into surgery, Mr Cavale qualified as a consultant in 2009 and worked primarily as a reconstructive surgeon. But, he explains, when it comes to starting a private practice, you don’t really see much trauma as patients go straight to the NHS. As a result, his practice moved to focus more on aesthetic surgery. “Once I got going, I quite liked the fact that it was different,” he says, adding, “I enjoy different things because one of my biggest fears in life is boredom!”
After working for private chains for some time, Mr Cavale began envisaging a new ecofriendly, state-of-the-art clinic and hospital that was smaller, yet offered the same high standards and innovative equipment as some of the bigger private hospitals.
“I had the insight to realise I couldn’t do it on my own,” he notes, explaining that partnering with an ophthalmologist – Mr Robbie Walker – and an anaesthetist – Mr Neel Desai, as well as business investors, has been beneficial. “I think it’s really important to know what you don’t know,” he says, explaining that teamwork has been imperative to the new hospital’s success.
When it came to choosing a name, the team followed Mr Cavale’s lead and adapted his existing branding to create REAL Clinic. “I just though ‘real’ is simple and sums up what I’m about,” he says, explaining that he is a ‘real’ plastic surgeon with all the relevant qualifications and offers ‘real’ results that are safe, effective and don’t look ‘fake’.
REAL Clinic offers both surgical and non-surgical treatments and Mr Cavale confirms that natural results form its ethos and culture. He says that all staff members are ‘REAListic’ when it comes to advising patients on expected results, while being confident in saying no to patients if they’re seeking treatment for the wrong reasons. The team encourage patients to take their time to weigh up all options before having any form of treatment, and will refer if anything is outside their remit. “Upselling is not part of our business,” emphasises Mr Cavale.
Based in the heart of Battersea near the park, tube and new Power Station development, REAL Clinic has a modern, fresh feel. Mr Cavale highlights that hospitals can be intimidating places for patients, so the team aimed to create a space that was friendly and welcoming. “We’ve made the whole front look like it’s a retail space – you then go upstairs to where the more ‘scary’ hospital is,” he explains, adding that, of course, it’s not that scary!
REAL Clinic is a CQC-registered facility that puts safety and hygiene first. It has dedicated treatment rooms and three impressive theatres with all the latest tools and technology, which are available for outside surgeons and anaesthetists to hire.
Sustainability is another factor that Mr Cavale and his team are proud of. Taking inspiration from the Royal College of Surgeon’s Sustainability in Surgery Strategy, REAL Clinic is continuously looking for new ways to improve its carbon footprint. While of course a lot of what gets used has to be disposed of in clinical waste, the team do their very best to recycle as much as they can. “We ensure that the packaging gowns and gloves come in are recycled before they are exposed to any blood or danger of infection,” he explains, adding that eventually, he would love to see a way to decontaminate clinical waste so that it too could be recycled in the future.
One of the most significant sustainable moves REAL Clinic has made is to use total intravenous anaesthesia (TIVA) instead of anaesthetic gas. Mr Cavale explains that this is a technique that uses a combination of agents given to the patient intravenously. Research has suggested that as well as being more environmentally friendly, it also reduces incidence of post-operative nausea and vomiting, offers more predictable and rapid recovery, greater haemodynamic stability and reduced risk of organ toxicity. Since using TIVA, Mr Cavale has found that his patients wake up without the usual anaesthetic ‘hangover’ and say that they feel like they’ve had a really nice sleep!
While his clinical work is important to him, Mr Cavale still makes time for charity. For a number of years he has been travelling to Gaza to treat blast and gunshot injuries on behalf of Medical Aid for Palestinians and its sister charity IDEALS (which helps relieve poverty, distress and suffering in part of the worlds affected by conflict and/or natural disaster). There Mr Cavale has helped to establish a limb reconstruction unit and train local surgeons, who he says are doing really well. He notes, “In fact, on my last trip, which was only a few weeks ago, I didn’t need to do much operating because the local guys were doing it all. It was great to see!”
Mr Cavale also serves as vice chairman of the British Foundation for International Reconstructive Surgery and Training (BFIRST). One of the key goals of this charity is to make surgery a human right. Mr Cavale explains, “It’s amazing how little is known about the need for surgery around the world; there’s a big need to get basic operations such as an emergency caesarian section, or an emergency op to fix a broken leg.” He adds that surgery can sometimes be seen as the ‘poor cousin’ when it comes to medical charitable efforts, as the focus is usually on prevention. Enhancing awareness and support is therefore imperative
Combining charity work, home life and running a busy private practice comes with challenges, but Mr Cavale wouldn’t have it any other way. “I always like to keep things fresh – wearing lots of hats keeps me ready for the next challenge!”
If you are interested in using REAL Clinic’s theatre facilities, visit www.realclinic.uk.