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John Sutcliffe, 35, is consultant neurosurgeon at the Royal London Hospital Trust, Whitechapel, writes Cherrill Hicks. Last week he removed a blood clot from the brain of the boxer Gerald McClellan.

Hours: From 7.30-9am to 8.30pm. "In the last few weeks I've hardly got away at all."

Training: 10 years.

Experience in neurosurgery: Six years.

NHS salary: About £40,000.

Private work: One morning a week.

The job: The hospital has its own emergency helicopter service bringing in more than 500 multiply injured patients a year; many have been involved in road accidents, falls from building sites and assaults.

"The patients I operate on have blood clots in the head, fractures of the spine and skull and occasionally foreign bodies such as bullets to remove.

"We also operate on children: typical cases are brain tumours and very young babies with hydrocephalus. And we run a neurostimulation clinic, using an electrical device, for conditions such as epilepsy and chronic pain."

Pros: "I love operating, I could quite easily spend 24 hours a day in theatre. And I like the drama, the challenge: with head injuries, like the boxer, you have to move very quickly."

Cons: "It takes over your life entirely. There's no escape: even out of the country you can't relax. And the stakes are pretty high - you can't win them all.

"About nine months ago I operated on Bradley Stone but he died. The trouble was he went home after the fight and came in when it was too late."