David Luesley, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology
The consultant team of gynaecological oncologists at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals (SWBH) NHS Trust cares for women with various gynaecological cancers. Professor David Luesley who works on the team also has an interest in precancerous conditions and runs clinics specifically designed to address this area of women’s health care.
David, who lives in Moseley, first took an interest in medicine on the advice of his careers master at school who felt he had ability in biology. After graduating, he had planned on doing an attachment with Voluntary Service Overseas but they suggested he get some obstetric experience first. This is how he came to be introduced to the area of obstetrics and gynaecology. During postgraduate training, David had the opportunity to take up a Cancer Research Campaign fellowship and he hasn’t looked back since.
It was during this fellowship that he believes he achieved his career highlight to date. He said, “As part of the three year fellowship, our team completed the first randomised surgical trial in ovarian cancer in the UK. The fellowship revealed the challenges of academia and I don’t regret for one minute having chosen an academic career. Gaining my personal chair in gynaecological oncology probably represents the next career highlight after that.”
On a day to day basis, David works in a large team of health care professionals and admin and support staff. He adds, “They are all here to make a genuine difference and make life better for our patients. We all depend on each other. Although I have retired from my university post, I am still ‘research active’ and am involved in the design and launch of clinical trials in vulval diseases.”
Working in oncology can be emotionally very difficult and is time-critical. But David is under no illusion about what drives him on. He continues, “I am continually motivated by seeing patients and their families having as positive an experience as possible on the part of the journey that I and our team are responsible for.”
Over the years, David can recall many memorable occasions at work but a few in particular stand out. “Both of my daughters were delivered here at City Hospital. Being present at both deliveries as a Dad first, and physician second were certainly days to remember. The half day paternity leave was pretty good too! From a more clinical perspective, launching the cancer centre here at City was very memorable and to have seen it develop into one of the best in the UK is very satisfying as well,” he said.
Both of David’s daughters are now teenagers, with the oldest about to head off to medical school herself, though he doubts this is a result of his own influence. In his free time, he and wife Gabrielle enjoy pottering in the garden, walking their three dogs in the country and sharing a love of Italian food which David admits may not always work out as planned when he prepares it at home.
With his children both flying the nest in the near future, David’s next big challenge is planning for his retirement, but he’s already found his ideal hideaway. A rural retreat hidden away in the Wye Valley is where he would go to get away from it all. But he will be able to look back on a career in which he has strived to help others. He concludes, “I’ve truly enjoyed meeting people from a huge spectrum of society and the privilege I, as a doctor, have in their letting me look after them.”