Prof Patrick J Bradley

Distinguished Head & Neck Cancer Surgeon


Born in Dublin in 1949, the middle of five children, Patrick J Bradley enrolled in UCD in 1967.  After a pre-medicine programme based predominantly in Belfield, he continued his medical education at Earlsfort Terrace and subsequently at St Vincent’s University Hospital where he also completed his internship, graduating with an MB BCh BAO in 1973 and a diploma in child health in 1975.  He undertook his initial general surgery training in Ireland and became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.  In 1977, he moved to Liverpool where he completed specialist training in otorhinolaryngology (head and neck) surgery under the guidance of Professor Philip Stell and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.

After five years in Liverpool, he recognised that the ‘diffuse demographics’ in Ireland would unlikely allow him to develop the necessary skill and expertise in his chosen specialty field.  In 1982, he was appointed Head and Neck Surgeon at the University Hospital Nottingham, and was part of the group of clinicians and allied healthcare professionals who set up a multi-disciplinary cancer service.  By agreement with his clinical colleagues, Prof Bradley undertook the majority of the relevant caseload such that, in his own words, he ‘super-specialised’ in head and neck cancer surgery.

“Like many other Irish doctors, I went to England to train, but having trained in head and neck cancer, you need a population of about over a million to give you about 140 new cases a year. Therefore Ireland, with its population of under four million, was not going to give me that amount of work. When I got the job in Nottingham, there is a population of about a million and a half to two million, so I could ‘super-specialise’ and then I stayed.”

Prof Bradley spent his entire clinical career at Nottingham retiring in 2009 but combined this clinical service role with a very active international teaching and research career which allowed him to indulge his passions for skiing, travelling, golf and scuba.  Together with Nottingham radiotherapist colleague, Dr. David Morgan, he established a post-graduate instructional course, successfully run for several years, which was the successor to the annual Stell and Maran Head and Neck Foundation Course. 

During the course of his career, he has been invited to faculty membership of numerous clinical and anatomical head and neck teaching courses throughout the UK and across the globe.  He has published widely, with more than 120 peer-reviewed articles, on diverse topics as diagnosis and management of head and neck cancer, hospital management and evidence based otolaryngology. He has been a member of numerous national journal editorial boards including the Journal of Laryngology and Otology, CME Otolaryngology, Oral Oncology as well as international journals: Laryngoscope, Head and Neck, and Acta Otolaryngologica. He has been involved for many years in ENT News and is a past Chairman of the Editorial Board. He was also a member of the board of ENT Espanola.  He has been invited as visiting Professor to many parts of the world; USA, Germany, Spain, Italy, Syria, Pakistan, India and Australia and was the GeneMyers International Head and Neck Lecturer at the American Academy ORLHNS in 2000. He has been involved in the British Association of Otolaryngologists, Head and Neck Surgeons (BAOHNS) and was Chairman of the Education and Training Committee.

Throughout his career, Pat Bradley established a reputation for his insatiable work appetite and for his strong mentoring role to junior surgeons.  He is credited with an influential role in the careers of over 15 distinguished Head & Neck surgeons who each lead their own clinical teams and convene annually as the 'Bradley Dining Club' to celebrate his mentorship.  At the encouragement of his hospital Chief Executive who recognised his leadership skills, he undertook an MBA (Health) at Nottingham University through an NHS Bursary over a 5-year period (part-time) with a view to becoming Clinical Director.  However, the lure of surgery proved too enduring.

“I was advised to do an MBA by the hospital CEO manager with the view to becoming a medical director, But I never became a medical director as midway through my MBA I realised my commitment and dedication to management was not what it was when I had started the MBA; I went into medicine to become a doctor and not a manager.”

His leadership skills did find an outlet and he was National Lead Clinician – Head and Neck Cancer for the English National Health Service from 2003 to 2006, which involved in implementing “good practice” and striving to improve quality care for the cancer patient.  Arising from this appointment, Professor Bradley was awarded the highest NHS National Health System Platinum Clinical Excellence Award.

He was been a member of the RCS London, Cancer Committee representing BAOHNS, and Chairman of the BAOHNS Cancer Committee. He is a past President of the British Association of Head and Neck Oncologists (2003 – 2005) and President of the European Laryngological Society (2004 – 2006). He has been appointed to the inaugural Executive Committee of the European Academy of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and has been a member of the Board of the European Head and Neck Society. 

In a career of many highlights, a significant high point was when he was awarded the Hunterian Professorship in 2009 by the Royal College of Surgeons of England. This Professorship is considered to be one of the most prestigious honours bestowed to surgeons of eminence who have richly contributed to the field of Surgery.  The honour of delivering the Hunterian lecture is regarded by surgeons throughout the world as a great privilege in recognition of their work. Professor Bradley’s Hunterian lecture was delivered at a joint meeting of the Royal Society of Medicine and the American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.

Professor Bradley has an International reputation as outstanding leader in Head and Neck Oncology. He has been the recipient of numerous invitations to be a Visiting Professor at Institutions throughout the world. This has included invitations to teach and deliver eponymous lectures in the USA at the Memorial Slone Kettering Cancer, MD Anderson Cancer Centre, The Mayo Clinic and The University of Pittsburgh. In addition, he has been invited to be a visiting Professor in some 22 other countries including Australia, Korea, Germany, Uganda.  He was awarded Honorary Fellowships by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, and an upcoming Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England in July 2015. 
He has also been appointed Honorary Visiting Professor of Anatomy and ENT at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Singapore.

He is recognized as being one of the world’s experts in Salivary Gland Malignancy. His recent book Salivary Gland Diseases and Disorders, which is one of the foremost works on the subject, was awarded Best Medical Book of the Year by the University of London 2014.

Professor Bradley was honoured in the 2015 UCD Foundation Day Alumni Awards having been nominated by medicine programme graduates.  Speaking at that event, Prof Bradley noted that he has had a ‘great life and wonderful career’ and given the chance, would do it all over again.

He is married to UCD Medicine classmate Sheena Kelly who is a Consultant Radiologist in Nottingham.  The couple have five children.