Wigan surgeon awarded MBE by Queen for bringing international doctors to the NHS

A Wigan surgeon who has brought hundreds of overseas doctors to the UK to work in the NHS has been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours.

Prof S Raj Murali, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon based at Wrightington Hospital, has received an MBE for services to international doctors working in the NHS.

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With a team at Edge Hill University, he developed a postgraduate training programme for overseas doctors which allows experienced international clinicians, who have higher postgraduate qualifications, to come to the UK and study, while gaining further clinical experience in the NHS.

Prof Raj Murali has been awarded the MBE

It has become the second largest programme for training international doctors in the UK.

Prof Murali, who lives in Orrell, said: “In 2004 I started a programme here at WWL to see how we could attract international doctors to work in Wigan, rather than anywhere else. The theory was if we could make the opportunity exciting enough for them, they would stay here.”

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The project now encompasses more than 50 specialities and attracts hundreds of doctors, while 250 nurses have taken part in a similar scheme.

Some of the doctors continue working in the NHS when the programme ends, while others return to their home countries and use their new skills there.

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Prof Murali said: “For Wigan the benefits are having a hospital that’s fully staffed, that means better patient care and all the benefits that brings. It’s also good for British doctors, because if people are filling the various positions available, they can get their training properly as well. Our international doctors learns about new techniques in the NHS. It’s win, win for everyone.”

Around 250 doctors were affected when the pandemic hit and elective surgery was cancelled, so Prof Murali supported them and ensured their contracts were extended.

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Prof Murali joined Wrightington Hospital in 2000 when Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) was being created and specialises in hand and wrist surgery, where he is an internationally recognised expert in his field.

He has supervised the management of more than 150,000 patients and was given a “gold” National Clinical Excellence Award.

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He said it was a “very pleasant surprise” when he received a letter informing him of the MBE and he was looking forward to a trip to London to collect the honour.

Prof Murali, 59, plans to celebrate the award this weekend with his wife, two children and grandson, who he said were “ecstatic”.

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He said: “I couldn’t have done this without my team. This is really not a one-man show. I have got a team of nearly 30 staff working with me in Wrightington focused on bringing in international doctors to the NHS. Without them, there would be no chance of me doing it.

"Obviously my colleagues at work have supported me to allow me to do my job and the management have given me the time to do this. It’s really a team effort.”

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Silas Nicholls, the trust’s chief executive, said: “I am absolutely delighted to congratulate Raj on this very well-deserved honour. We are extremely proud of his achievements and all of his excellent work, not just as an acclaimed consultant orthopaedic surgeon at WWL, but his instrumental work in recruiting and training overseas doctors nationally.”