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Observations BMJ Confidential

John Ashton: Outspoken and impatient

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 30 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2849

In the latest in its series asking the movers and shakers of the medical world about work, life, and less serious matters, The BMJ spoke to the president of the UK Faculty of Public Health


John Ashton has not been afraid to get his hands dirty when fighting for better public health. He was responsible for England’s first large scale syringe exchange programme in 1986 and for a drive to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate in the 1980s, both in his home city of Liverpool. He was one of the initiators of WHO’s Healthy Cities programme in 1987 and helped to evacuate medical casualties from Kosovo in 1999. He implemented triage procedures during the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989 and was vindicated in his support for the Liverpool supporters by the Bishop of Liverpool’s independent inquiry panel in 2013.

What was your earliest ambition?

Coming from a family of farm labourers and gardeners I aspired to be a vet—until my uncle John, who had been to university, advised against it …

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