Get to know the new Clinical Radiology MDPP

Tuesday 10 November 2015

We recently interviewed Dr Andy Smethurst our newly elected Medical Director, Professional Practice, Clincial Radiology to find out why he stood for Office and which three famous people he would invite to dinner.

1. What made you stand for office?

I’ve been involved in College work now for years, and I have always felt that when there are problems and challenges that we all face, then I prefer to try and do something about it. I started off on the Council which I was elected on to, so I got to know lots of people and how the College worked. I also served two terms as a Regional Chair, which I have always seen as the heartbeat of the College. Back home, I was Clinical Director for a decade and I was on the governing body for Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) . It seemed a natural progression when the opportunity to be MDPP came along. 

2. What is your favourite thing about the RCR?

The people – I’ve always had really good relationships with the people I have come across in each of the roles I’ve been in.

3. Which parts of the College would you like to see Fellows and members become more involved with?

All of it! Radiologists are pressured at the moment – there is a massive workforce crisis and when that happens, people’s heads go down and they just get on with life. When we come up for breath, the size of the problem becomes apparent, and we try to work out who’s responsible for trying to sort it out,  but it’s everyone’s job. We will only be at our most effective when everyone feels like they have input into the College.

4. What made you choose clinical radiology as your specialty?

That’s an easy one to answer, it was the way I got taught radiology as a student. Basil Shepstone in Oxford made it fantastic. I guess if you have any sense you try and choose the things you might be okay at. I was never going to be a surgeon; however, there is something about the way my brain is wired that made me understand radiology. It really goes all the way back to medical school.

5. If you could give one piece of advice to medical students considering a career in clinical radiology, what would it be?

Use your elective or some of it to try out radiology. With an elective you ideally want to go to a far flung place and experience life as you have never seen it before. I was very lucky I went to Melbourne and Alice Springs; I did half in radiology and the other half with the Aboriginal Australian Congress as their doctor in the desert, so I did some very challenging  and exciting  things, but I also did some high-tech stuff as well. It will help you decide whether it’s the right choice for you. It will also look great on your CV and make you stand out when applying for specialty training.  

6. What is the best thing about your job?

I would say the people. I am an imager so my end product is an electronic report, but I work best when I am part of a team. I’ve got a great bunch of colleagues where I work at Aintree Hospital; the clinical connectivity with them and the medics and surgeons in my speciality area is what I really enjoy.

7. If you weren’t a doctor what would you be doing instead and why?

I’ve enjoyed absolutely every job I’ve done from gardening through to scaffolding. I’ve tried to make the best of whatever job I did. I’ve always kind of fancied myself as a TV style barrister; not a boring barrister. I’d have liked to have been Judge John Deed.

8. What three items would you take to a desert island and why?

A football, a satellite television and a fridge with some wine/beer in it – that’s a real boy’s kind of answer isn’t it?

9. If you could learn a new skill what would it be and why?

I’d quite like to learn to dance. My wife can dance and I can’t. So if I was given time and energy I’d quite like to do that.

10. What would your friends say is your greatest quality?


11. If you could invite three people to dinner, past or present, who would you invite?

Gary Lineker, Churchill and Henry VIII – I’m not sure how well they’d all get on but I was trying to go back in history and pick people from different eras.

12. What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Never give up.

13. Who inspires you and why?

My three kids because they’ve got a fantastic ‘everything is possible’ attitude and we all need more of that. Mind you, you have to be sensible – I mean I’ll never play football to a reasonable standard again.

14. What has been your greatest achievement?

For work it would be working with a great team of colleagues to rebuild our X-ray department and for sport it would be winning the FA Cup of Hockey at university.

15. If you could give the College a hashtag what would it be?


Read the interview from Dr David Bloomfield our newly elected Medical Director, Professional Practice, Clinical Oncology to find out his answers.