Intended for healthcare professionals


Alexander Macara

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 09 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4644
  1. Peter Davies, freelance journalist, London
  1. petergdavies{at}

Former BMA chairman who denounced the “infernal bazaar” of the NHS

Nick Sinclair

Alexander (Sandy) Macara, who has died aged 80, was a charismatic medical politician and an internationally renowned public health physician. As the chairman of the BMA council in the 1990s he healed rifts in an organisation demoralised after controversial changes to the NHS. Admirers praised his quiet diplomacy and clear vision, as well as oratorical skills that enabled him to “connect with the soul of the profession and reflect it,” as Jim Appleyard, former treasurer of the BMA, put it. A key figure in European public health, Macara campaigned remorselessly against the tobacco industry.

Leadership and speaking truth to power

Macara became council chair in 1993 in what amounted to a coup against the incumbent, Jeremy Lee-Potter, whose restrained approach with ministers was seen as ineffective. Yet Macara had been a reluctant candidate, recalled his election manager, Edwin Borman, then the chairperson of the Junior Doctors Committee. “Sandy did a lot of soul searching as to whether it was the right thing to do, rather than just expedient or feeding ambition. He …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription