Meet John Leeds


John Leeds is a Consultant Pancreaticobiliary Physician and Endoscopist, and a Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer.

What attracted you to a career in gastroenterology/hepatology?

Gastroenterology was my first "house job" back in 1998 at Bradford Royal Infirmary, and whilst it was challenging it was also incredibly rewarding. Even as a junior, I was able to get involved with the patients and make a difference. I was able to also get great hands-on experience of procedures like ascitic tap and drain, as well as have to deal with complex medical scenarios like hepatorenal syndrome, complex nutrition and GI bleeding. As I progressed, I came around to gastroenterology again as a post-membership SHO and was able to get involved in a research project, learn to manage outpatient GI issues, and they started teaching me upper GI endoscopy. I think this is the part that I thought was absolutely brilliant but it was the combination of opportunities and superb mentors (like Adrian Manning and Dominic Reynolds) that made me want to be a gastroenterologist like them. Once I got my registrar rotation in Sheffield, I was able to craft a training programme that has led to me becoming a Pancreaticobiliary Physician and endoscopist. Really landed on my feet by meeting (now Prof) David Sanders early on and together we designed the studies that would lead to my MD and eventual fellowship in Newcastle.

What advancement in gastroenterology/hepatology are you most excited about and why?

Therapeutic PB endoscopy and, in particular, endoscopic ultrasound. Over the last 5 years alone, this modality has become more widely used diagnostically but increasingly in therapeutics. Many of the newer innovative uses of endoscopic ultrasound are hugely blurring the lines between endoscopy and surgery with us now being able to perform endoscopic anastomotic procedures which reduce the need for surgery. I am excited to see how far this technology can take us.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Anyone who is around me for more that about a minute will know that I love my job. I feel very privileged to have gotten to where I am from growing up poor in the east end of Derby. The most enjoyable aspect is being a part of a thriving team that puts the patient at the centre. PB medicine is incredibly multidisciplinary and it would be easy to feel like a cog in a wheel. Whether in endoscopy, outpatients, or the MDTs, it is great to have colleagues genuinely want your opinion or thoughts on a patient. I especially enjoy seeing a patient returning for review and it is clear that they have benefitted from our input. PB medicine and endoscopy is the great humbler - the diseases and procedures can simultaneously be the most rewarding when it goes well, but the most dire when it doesn't.

What is the one thing you would change?

The amount of bureaucracy that is often needed to get the job done. I do appreciate that there are important steps along the way to providing the best patient care, but I do question the volume that is needed for sometimes the simplest of things...

What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career?

"We all have the best intentions but life gets in the way" - Prof David Sanders. Medicine is a vocation and I am utterly dedicated to deliver the best care I can to my patients, but it is also just a job at the same time. When there have been personal/family emergencies then they have come first. The ethos in our unit is very much that of "can do" and our staff frequently go above and beyond for patient care. However, us and our families deserve exactly the same care and attention.

What does being a BSG member mean to you?

Being a BSG member helps to keep me in touch with those parts of our society that aren't in my niche area and helps me to keep my head up looking at what new things that are going on. The BSG publishes really helpful articles from guidelines to research to educational highlights. I often find myself going to the website or the link to Gut for information or guidance. I am proud to have also given something back by being a committee member of both the endoscopy and pancreaticobiliary sections.

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