I studied medicine and surgery in Belfast where I acquired my basic skills dealing with the aftermath of the IRA terror campaign. The skill and dedication of my surgical teachers attracted me into surgery. I trained in both the UK and the USA and was appointed, in 1985, consultant to the Manchester Royal Infirmary, with admitting rights to BMI The Alexandra Hospital.
I worked and lead the unprecedented expansion in cardiac surgery and in this era I was responsible for several important initiatives in Manchester and England. These involved additional training both on the Continent and the USA. They consisted of:
- Arterial grafting. I have an international reputation in developing this aspect of coronary bypass surgery
- Minimally invasive approaches. Both small incision approaches (the MIDCAB operation) and less invasive approaches to coronary artery surgery with the development of the “off-pump” operation
- Mitral valve repair
- Atrial fibrillation ablation surgery.
I am interested in repeat cardiac surgery. With the advent and success of the early operations on the heart there is an increasing need for such procedures. I have worked on ways of making such procedures more safe. This links with my interest in adult congenital heart surgery (many are repeat procedures) which I developed in the North West.
With the expansion in heart surgery I became increasingly interested in the outcomes and safety of the various operations we were pioneering. This lead to a more general interest in the use of information to improve our services and develop high quality services. This has been recognised by being offered National Advisory roles in the Healthcare Commission and subsequently the Care Quality Commission. I am a member of the National Clinical Audit Advisory Group. Thus I have contributed and improved services using data and audits.
My work has lead to important research projects. I have collaborated as co-principal investigator in the cardiovascular research group in the University of Manchester and was appointed Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery by the University in 2009.