Observations BMJ Confidential

Paul McMaster: At times a real pain

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7828 (Published 08 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:g7828


Paul McMaster is an English surgeon who worked for 35 years at the University of Cambridge and later at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. He retired from NHS life in 2000 to undertake medical care in the developing world, training in women’s fistula surgery repair in Uganda and Rwanda. In 2005 he began working for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and carried out surgical projects in Somalia, Congo, and Burundi before moving to MSF’s Amsterdam headquarters to become surgical director. He returned to the United Kingdom in 2012 to become president of MSF UK, and he continues to work on surgical projects abroad.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be an explorer.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My father—a good family doctor who cared.

What was the worst mistake in your career?

Not working in the developing world as a young doctor. In the NHS I made the mistake of expecting things to be changed much more quickly than was realistically possible.

What was your best career move?

Working …

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