Intended for healthcare professionals


Donal O’Donoghue: visionary nephrologist and registrar of the Royal College of Physicians

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 21 January 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n170
  1. Penny Warren
  1. London, UK
  1. warrenpenny788{at}
Photo credit: James O’Donoghue

In 1992 Donal O’Donoghue, aged 36, was appointed consultant renal physician at the Hope Hospital (now Salford Royal Hospital) in Manchester, a post he held throughout his career. At the time, without national protocols, treatments were ad hoc. There was not enough access to haemodialysis, so 50% of dialysis patients were having peritoneal dialysis, although it is less suitable for elderly or frail patients. Keen to improve patient care, in 1993 O’Donoghue became director of the Greater Manchester Renal Network, England’s first managed clinical network. He reconfigured renal services with Salford Royal Hospital and the Manchester Royal Infirmary as the hubs, surrounded by satellite dialysis centres.

Renal tsar

O’Donoghue was concerned that kidney failure was associated with poor outcomes and very high costs and wanted to standardise treatment and move the focus upstream to improve rates of early diagnosis. While continuing to work at the Salford Royal, he took national appointments that put him at the centre of kidney medicine, where he could champion early intervention. In 2000 he became the inaugural president of …

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