7 March 2018 CEO Blog post

Thank you James

This week will see our hospital family come together and pay our respects to an Orthopaedic pioneer. Many words have already been written about him and many more will be shared over the coming days and weeks. You see James, known to many of us as just ‘Prof’, was a remarkable doctor.

My first meeting with him was two years ago in his office. We discussed his work and the exciting cutting edge clinical research we were (he was) doing. I can still remember the conversation vividly.

James wanted to know how we were going to make the hospital a happier place.

James got why we were trying to improve our culture. By my bed at home I have a copy of Atul Gawande’s book – The Checklist Manifesto. It’s his book. He appeared on the corridor one day brandishing it. He was looking to lend it to me. You see we had been chatting about how to get things right. The book makes an argument that it is possible to use a humble checklist to manage complexity. He was keen we engage our surgeons and theatre teams in becoming even safer and even better.

After that he often sent me an email or suggested simpler, safer and better ways of working to me. He was usually right. You see James to me wasn’t just a brilliant researcher or an amazing doctor. He was wise counsel. Thoughtful, clever and inspiring. He was focussed not just on new surgical techniques and cutting edge research, but also how to make thing safer for patients and better for staff.

You will know that I presented  James with the Chief Executive's Award for Inspirational Leadership at our staff awards ceremony in November last year. He was humble and surprised he had been chosen. The cheer for him on the night showed how popular he was.

At the end of last year and start of this he was working seven days a week corralling and inspiring a complex partnership that was looking to get some funding into our labs and into his work. His eyes fired when he talked about it and his voice, with that beautiful soft tone, was excited and full of passion.

I know his work will live on, but we will miss him. I will definitely miss him. He had RJAH in his heart, just like we have him in ours.

God bless James. On behalf of your patients and colleagues a simple “thank you”. Orthopaedics has lost a legend.  We have lost a friend.


Mark Brandreth
Chief Executive


Image of Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive

Do you have any thoughts or comments on this blog entry?

If so, please send to rjah.chief.executive@nhs.net.