William Forbes Hendry

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 16 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f163
  1. Anne Gulland, London
  1. annecgulland{at}

Urologist who pioneered cystectomy for bladder cancer and improved patients’ survival

When consultant urologist Bill Hendry reached his 60th birthday he decided to make a clean break from medicine, and he and his wife moved to the Isle of Lewis to breed cattle.

This remarkable career change was characteristic of a man who had an all or nothing attitude to life, say family and colleagues. Jonathan Ramsay, now a consultant urologist at Hammersmith and Charing Cross Hospitals in London, worked as Hendry’s trainee at Barts from 1977 to 1988. As a surgeon, Hendry was always “at the top of his game,” says Ramsay.

“Whatever he set out to do, it was always going to be as good an experience for the patient and for the outcome as it could possibly be. And he treated each new surgical task as a challenge requiring continuous refinement,” Ramsay says.

This approach to his work began in the early part of his career when he treated patients with bladder cancer. In the late 1960s and early 1970s it was assumed that radiotherapy alone was a safer and better …

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