Professor Alan Rodger, Medical Director of the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre has announced his retiral.
After five and a half years driving forward the transformation of medical oncology services for West of Scotland, including the creation of the new Beatson, Professor Rodger will retire in January 2009.
The Professor leaves behind him a rich legacy of which he is rightly proud.
Professor Rodger joined the Beatson in 2003 at the very outset of a major programme of investment and cancer service redesign. £100 million was to be spent creating the new Beatson and Professor Rodger with his senior team were to lead this exciting work.
The Professor says that the sheer scale of what was planned and the opportunity to be part of a new era of cancer care was a real attraction when deciding whether or not to leave his post at the William Buckland Radiotherapy Centre in Victoria, Australia. He said: “The vision and commitment of senior NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) colleagues was what convinced me to come here. I knew absolutely that they had every intention of creating something very unique and I wanted to part of that. What was also exciting and attractive to me was the chance to build a regional service and not just a hospital based one. The transformation of the Beatson wasn’t just about creating a new unit on one hospital site for the sole use of city residents – it was about developing further a service for the whole of the West of Scotland and regional care was always a principle which I believed in from early in my career.”
Now just over five years on and cancer services across the region are barely recognisable. The new Beatson is the lead centre for delivering non-surgical cancer care across the West of Scotland and treats more than 8,000 new patients every year.
Andrew Roberston, NHSGGC’s Chairman has paid special tribute to the massive contribution made by Professor Rodger: “The “Beatson” has a rich history in the Scottish treatment and development of cancer care services dating back centuries. As a Health Board we have always been very committed to ensuring the best possible cancer services for our patients but I think it is fair to say that the New Beatson has exceeded all expectations. The opening of its doors has heralded a new dawn in cancer provision and much of this is down to Alan and his team. Alan’s vision, commitment and enthusiasm have been an inspiration to his team and the results have seen cancer patients in the West of Scotland benefit from the very best services available anywhere in the world today.”
Cancer care is now delivered from brand new modern, purpose-built facilities with a package of state-of-the-art equipment unrivalled anywhere in Europe, a far cry from the less than ideal accommodation at the old Beatson.
Clearly the move into the new Beatson has been a highlight of Professor Rodger’s time in Glasgow. He said: “The move into our new home was so momentous – the culmination of so much planning and hard work by the team. The response from staff, patients and visitors has been quite astonishing. You can clearly see how much people appreciate the surroundings and care about what we are trying to do. But it isn’t just about the facilities, it’s also the standard of our treatments and equipment. I am proud that we have the best of everything here.
“It’s funny because the rep from the company who was the successful bidder for the purchasing of some our equipment actually turned to me one day and said: “Alan, do you realise that you now have everything in our catalogue!” And that just about sums it up really. We have the very best equipment and technology that is available on the market today.”
Another highlight for Alan is that the Beatson is now a very attractive place to work and attracts professionals from around the globe. “It is no secret that in the late 90s and into 2000/1 there was a chronic shortage of staff at the Beatson. It was not an attractive place to work. Through our heightened credibility and profile this has been completely turned around. In fact, we have more applicants for some posts than we have jobs for and the Beatson is now staffed by the highest number of specialist staff it has ever had. That, I think, is testament to how far we have come.”
One of the other major achievements for the Beatson has been the creation of a major network of outreach clinics right across the region. Specialist staff from the Beatson offer clinics at ten major hospitals outside Glasgow in the West of Scotland and this, according to the Professor, is exactly as it should be. He said: “We have radically changed the way services are delivered regionally and building on this is critical to the way forward in cancer care of the future.”
Before full retirement the Professor will act as a special advisor to NHS Grampian over the coming months as they deliver their own major programme of investment and redesign in cancer services.
NHSGGC are currently looking for a replacement to whom the Professor will pass the baton of leadership of the Beatson at the end of January 2009.
The Professor’s words to the successful applicant are these: “My successor will be working with a fantastic team, both at the Beatson and across the West of Scotland. It has been my absolute privilege to work them and I am sure the next Medical Director will quickly understand exactly what I mean. I took this job because it was an exciting challenge and it remains exactly that. It also offers excellent rewards, most particularly in working with an extremely talented and dedicated multi-professional team in delivering the highest standards of care, as equitably as possible, to a significant proportion of the Scottish population. The senior management is still very focused and supportive of trying to build on the achievements made thus far. The new post holder must always remember however that it is not just a Glasgow job but a West of Scotland job that needs to be done. I also very much hope that as the largest and most well- equipped cancer centre in the country the Beatson continues to take the national lead in the development and delivery of services.”
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