Meet Matthew Brookes


Matthew Brookes is a Professor of Gastroenterology at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, and Director of Clinical Research Network, West Midlands.

What attracted you to a career in gastroenterology/hepatology?

For me, it was the diversity of the workload. Gastroenterology has lots of different organs/diseases that we look after and there’s a lot of variability in the work that we do. There’s a combination of practical skills and clinical work. You have the patient facing aspect, but it is also practical so it’s a good hybrid medical speciality because it has that balance.

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

The field of digital and artificial intelligence as I think they are big areas for development. There are lots of unknowns about those areas, but there are lots of opportunities to enhance our knowledge, increase research in those areas, and improve the work that we do using those opportunities.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I do quite a lot of research in my role and for me the most exciting thing I do on a day-to-day basis, beyond the patient facing work, is the research which excites me, keeps me interested and up to date, but also invigorates me on a daily basis. So, I think predominantly research, but I do like the patient facing work and I do still very much enjoy my endoscopy sessions.

What is the one thing you would change?

Looking at the way we work, I support the development of portfolio careers in gastroenterology. We work in a busy speciality, and it is increasingly difficult for people to embed non-clinical work into a portfolio career. The thing I’d like to change is to provide the opportunity within gastroenterology departments to have specific individuals who have got a portfolio career that focus on aspects of work that are outside just the clinical work and gives them that protected time. That might be research, or clinical management, or education and training.  At the moment I don’t think as organisations and as trusts we do that particularly well. We need to recognise the value of all that work and embed portfolio careers in Gastrointestinal research, leadership, education and training in departments across the country.

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

Keep doing something different; this relates to work as well as life outside of work. Every three to five years or so, try and take on a new challenge. Do something different, don’t stay in that comfortable, safe space. Once you’re confident in the role you do, push yourself and change what you do to challenge yourself. I’ve started to run in my later years and now I cycle which I didn’t used to do. I’m always looking for new things to do, even if it is just for a few years, then move on and do something different. That is the best advice that I was given.

Who gave you that advice?

It was one of my colleagues called Suneil Kapadia, who used to be secretary at the BSG and he always had very wise and sage advice and was well worth listening to. Colleagues will find those individuals as they progress in their carer, the people they trust and can listen to and follow their advice.

What does being a BSG member mean to you?

It makes me part of the family and the community, and it means we can share and work together which enables us to provide the best possible care for our patients. It helps to work together and train, educate, and provide resources to support that. When I was a trainee, the BSG was very much linked to the annual meeting. That’s what I saw as a trainee; it was a lot about the annual meeting but increasingly I understand the work that is being done in the background to support education, training, research, and service development. My understanding of the BSG and what it means to me has evolved over time, but increasingly I’ve realised it is being part of a bigger gastroenterology family.

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