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Biographical entry Anderson, John Barry (1953 - 2013)

MB ChB Bristol 1979; FRCS 1983; ChM 1988.

10 April 1953
Redhill, Surrey
27 May 2013
Urological surgeon


John Barry Anderson was a consultant urological surgeon at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield. He was born on 10 April 1952 in Redhill, Surrey, the eldest son of Edward James Anderson, a hospital administrator and ex-bomber pilot, and Catherine Elizabeth Anderson née Boland, a nurse who had emigrated from the west of Ireland. He was educated at Toldene County Primary School and then progressed to grammar school, the only boy to have done so in three years.

John's initial inclination was to the arts and, having studied history and languages to A level, he headed to Exeter University to read philosophy. A moment of reflection changed the course of his life. John left Exeter and drove bulldozers in a Fuller's earth works to help him afford to convert to medicine. In 1973 he left for Bristol to start his medical studies. He qualified six years later, decided to become a surgeon and took his fellowship in 1983, beginning, as many did, on rotational training programmes in general surgery.

His time with Robin Williamson defined that John's career was going to take a urological turn and in 1988, having completed his ChM, he moved to Sheffield to gain specific urological training with John Williams. After three months in California, in 1991, he went back to Yorkshire to become the first consultant to be appointed with a specific remit to treat urological malignancy, especially the rising tide of early prostate cancer.

John's initial consultant career at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital was littered with examples of innovation many years ahead of their adoption as the norm in clinical practice. He established combined oncology clinics, became an oncological sub-specialist and set up a consortium for private practice, all in the early 1990s. His expertise in change management and his easy, winning, charm made John a natural target for leadership to promulgate best practice throughout the NHS. He was one of the first regional cancer leads, was on the national steering group for sub-specialist oncological practice and one of the first chairman of the British Association of Urological Surgeons' (BAUS) section of oncology. John was also a committed and dextrous surgeon, inspirational to his juniors, whether they were wedded to urology as a career or not, and kind, considerate and compassionate to his patients who had surgical treatment of the highest quality in his hands.

John had an international reputation for his work in the field of hormonal therapy for advanced prostate cancer; he sat on European guidelines committees and advised the Medical Research Council, the National Cancer Research Institute, the Confidential Enquiry into Perioperative Deaths and the Prostate Cancer Advisory Group about the management of urological pelvic malignancy. John was widely published in his field and sat on editorial boards of the British Journal of Urology International and the national urological cancer guidance. He also devoted a lot of his time, from 2005, as a trustee of the Prostate Cancer Charity and, subsequently, Prostate Cancer UK.

John's persistence, firm fairness and invariable good humour meant that he was universally liked and respected. He was elected to the presidency of BAUS in 2009, but was unable to take up that role as a consequence of the urological cancer to which he devoted so much of his time trying to defeat. John treated his final illness in the way that he approached virtually every other aspect of his life, straightforwardly and with a positive tilt at every bit of adversity. John's many friends were inspired by the way he dealt with the initial uncertainty of his diagnosis, his decision to defer therapy until he became symptomatic and the inexorable decline in his health from the metastatic disease that was evident at the outset. John beat the drum for prostate cancer awareness until he was too unwell to do so.

John was a hugely entertaining man whose glass was always more than half full. He loved balanced simplicity and had an informed view on almost everything, no matter how obscure the topic was. His love of spontaneous adventure was a facet of his character that those close to him will recognise as being instantly engaging. John's last year was filled with wonderful memories, which he enthusiastically shared with his family. There may be others who will try to emulate John Anderson, but if anyone manages to recreate that wonderful balance of humour, empathy, fairness and overriding positivity, they will be a unique person indeed.

John Barry Anderson died on 27 May 2013. He was 60. He was survived by his three children - Josie Marie, James Edward and Luke Oliver from his marriage to Susan Claire Bailey.

Steve Payne

The Royal College of Surgeons of England