Top doctors join exodus from London hospitals: Demoralised medical talent quitting the capital amid fears over the future of research and teaching, Liz Hunt reports

NINE LEADING doctors and scientists are leaving or have left London hospitals to pursue their careers elsewhere because of fears for the future of medical research and teaching in the capital. Their decisions follow the reorganisation of health services and the planned closure or merger of up to 15 hospitals.

Many young consultants who had planned their careers at a London teaching hospital are resigning to move to other parts of Britain or emigrating because they see no opportunity to progress.

As a result, world-renowned London hospitals which have been at the forefront of research and patient care for decades face a 'slow death' and a loss of status to that of district general hospitals, according to one professor who asked not to be named.

'I see London becoming a pool of mediocrity. A district general hospital is fine for the local population it serves but superior medical specialities need to be in an institution that has the full back-up of research that all the population can call on.'

Professor Martin Bobrow, of Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital Trust, is one of five leading geneticists who have quit or may quit their jobs in London. Professor Bobrow, who is considering a move said: 'There has always been a certain amount of movement but nothing like the scale that is happening now. The destabilisation of London hospitals will hit research and teaching in so many ways.'

Professor Keith Johnson, head of neurogenetics at Charing Cross Hospital, who has been invited to set up a new unit outside London, said yesterday: 'The uncertainty and doubt has tipped the balance in favour of moving.'

St Bartholomew's is losing Professor Tim Eden, a child cancer specialist to Manchester and Professor Richard Wood, a leading surgeon to Sheffield. Professor Michael Chapman, who pioneered foetal heart surgery at Guy's has returned to Australia. Dr David Bihari, an intensive care specialist is considering a move to Australia.

The pool of future expertise is also diminishing as junior consultants quit the teaching hospitals. Howard Ware, 38, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon moved from Bart's to Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield in May. 'I could not work in an institution that is being attacked on all sides, by politicians and management.'

Dr Paul Drury, a consultant physician at King's College Hospital, and his wife, Dr Susan Rudge, a specialist in child rheumatology, are emigrating to New Zealand. Dr Drury said that widespread uncertainty had destroyed morale.

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