Dr Raman Uberoi, our new Medical Director, Professional Practice (MDPP) for Clinical Radiology explains why he stood for office, what leadership means to him and how he sees the RCR developing over the coming years.
What attracted you to radiology?
As a junior doctor I was fascinated at our clinical meetings by the imaging and how this often could help and support the management of patients. There were several patients where radiology was crucial. Seeing inside patients to detect disease and then plan a course of action to help us deal with difficult clinico-pathological conditions was amazing. I was also from the start fascinated by the ability to use fluoroscopy and later ultrasound to guide procedures minimally invasively. This inevitably led me to look into radiology as a possible career.
Tell us a bit about your role, your trust and how you got there.
I am an interventional radiologist in the Oxford University Hospitals. Although I am predominantly an interventionist working alongside and supporting many other specialties such as vascular, intensive therapy unit anaesthetics, trauma, gastrointestinal surgery, gastro-enterology and so on. I do a mix of imaging and intervention which gives me a great perspective on the important role of radiology within the trust. During my 20 years in the trust I have worked as clinical lead and clinical director. After 20 years, I am the longest serving member of the technologies appraisal group and have worked on other committees such as charitable funds and the Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards.
What made you decide you wanted to get more involved with the RCR?
It is important that radiologists at all levels help shape the future of radiology from within. Radiology has a huge impact on patient care and just about every specialty within the NHS interacts and benefits from the expertise of hardworking radiologists throughout the UK, but the work is often not recognised with trusts or the wider NHS. I have always strived to improve radiology practice and develop our specialty to do the best for our patients through better working practices and through developing quality and standard guidelines.
I have served on several RCR committees over the last 20 years including e-standards, Head of Regional Chairs, Faculty Board, the Professional Support and Standards Board and the interventional radiology (IR) committees. As a senior officer in the RCR, I really want to further develop our specialty and support current and future generations in the evolution of radiology, to make it better, stronger, more impactful ultimately to improve the quality of care we provide for the patients.
What do you think the biggest challenges facing your specialty are right now?
Many of the challenges sadly have remained unchanged over the last few decades:
- Visibility and making patients and decision-makers, particularly politicians, understand the importance of having strong, excellent radiology departments in the UK
- Workforce remains a key dilemma for delivering excellent care
- Having the systems and structures to support radiologists in delivering care, which leads into having the right training and governance frameworks which is particularly pertinent to IR
- Infrastructure, particularly equipment replacement programmes, information technology (IT) and IT networking.
The list sadly can go on, but we need to focus on the first few and the rest will then follow on.
How do you see the RCR developing over the coming years?
Evolution is healthy and vital to the success of all medical disciplines. The number of colleges and specialties have increased and the way they work and support doctors has changed over the generations. It has allowed them to adapt to the changing needs of patients, regulatory frameworks and ever-increasing technological innovations. Having strong, clinically focused specialties will help strengthen the RCR. We will be much more engaged in marketing and working with patients, politicians and other key stakeholders. The RCR will develop a much more outward-looking communications strategy to achieve this.
The RCR needs to remain at the forefront of training and professional development which will mean changes to its structures, how we train the future generations and governance frameworks. Ultimately, the goal is to give our patients the best care we can. Getting our Fellows much more engaged in decision-making will be key and with their support we can achieve our objectives. Some of the changes are already taking shape. The Officers being clear about objectives and delivering a strategy with the office and secretariat supporting and helping deliver the objectives of the RCR will facilitate this work.
What does good governance and leadership mean to you?
These two things are interlinked of course. All doctors are to some degree involved in leadership roles, formal and informal. Ensuring we do things well for the betterment of care to our patients is a responsibility for all of us involved in clinical care of patients. So regardless of if we are supervising imaging lists, interventional lists or junior colleagues we need to ensure – as individuals and collectively in teams – that we are doing things as well as we can. Where we can't do this, we need to speak up and actively try to change things which is not always easy or popular but is vitally important.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve been involved in?
I am fortunate to have been involved in many developments over the years. If I was to choose one it would be the establishment of the European Board of Interventional Radiology examination with colleagues from around the world. It is the only internationally recognised examination in the world for IR. With the help of educationalists we have transformed this examination in the last 11 years from a very basic examination to a highly sophisticated, fully digital examination which can be taken anywhere in the world. By bringing the examination into the 21st Century, in particular replacing the oral component of the examination, the metrics of the examination have improved massively.
How do you balance life and work? Do you think this is getting harder or easier?
I don’t think I do it very well. After 37 years working in the NHS I still I enjoy my clinical work, particularly in IR. I also enjoy my many national and international roles which I do in my spare time, but this gives me the opportunity to help shape the training and working practices of current and future generations of radiologists. As a senior radiologist I believe this is really important. It can be a lot of hard work, but also it can often be great fun working with really good colleagues. There is ultimately the satisfaction of hopefully having made a difference.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Family life is important. Even though my children are adults it is great to meet up for dinner and a chat. Reading, going out to the theatre, films and meeting up with friends is a great way to relax. Sadly going out has not possible over the last couple of years, but hopefully we will come out of the pandemic in one piece and return to some normality soon!