By: 9 September 2016
James Newman – Answering the questions that no one dares to ask

As planning for the Orthopaedic Knee Conference 2016 really gets underway, OPN talks to co-chair James Newman about his hopes for the conference and aspirations for orthopaedic surgery in general – and he explains why he was always destined to end up in a career that required him to use a drill …


As a specialist in sports injuries and knee replacement surgery, could you give us more details on your extensive experience and training background in this field?

During my time as a senior registrar, I did a year-long fellowship in Sheffield Teaching Hospitals learning all about knee surgery – both soft and ‘hard’ tissue. I was appointed as a knee surgeon back in 2011 at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust, at a busy hospital with associated teaching hospital status. Since then I have been doing my best to build a gold-standard elective service at the Trust, in my role as elective lead for orthopaedic surgery. I was asked to join the Yorkshire Knee Clinic 18 months ago.


Tell us a little more about the topics being discussed at the OPN Knee Conference 2016 and why you chose them for the meeting.

There are many controversies throughout the world of orthopaedics. We were keen to pick those thorny issues that generate the most debate among fellow knee surgeons. It’s going to be great fun hearing both sides of the story from some real experts in the field.


What knowledge and insights do you hope the delegates will leave with at the end of the one-day conference?

I hope that those questions that no one dared to ask will be answered!


Who should attend the event?

Any knee surgeons or aspiring knee surgeons should come. I’m hoping it’s going to be a lively, good-natured and informative meeting.


How do you think the future looks within the field of orthopaedics?

It’s certainly going to be interesting! There are some exciting developments on the horizon; however, the ever-looming cloud that’s associated with NHS finances always puts a dampener on that enthusiasm.


What drove you to choose surgery as a career – and orthopaedic surgery in particular?

For me, orthopaedic surgery is better than any other specialty for the simple reason that it’s reconstructive, with good patient outcomes. Plus all those years working at Homebase as a teenager have obviously pushed me into a drill-based career.


What’s the best part of your job?

Working with great teams in theatres. I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many talented people; it makes my job easy.


… and the worst part?



What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

Like all surgeons, I can identify certain patient successes that have really stuck with me. The letters you receive from patients thanking you for getting rid of their chronic pain or enabling them to return to sports are a constant reminder of why we do this job. Another highlight was showing Princess Anne round the new orthopaedic department when she opened the hospital.


If you weren’t an orthopaedic surgeon what would you be?

A chippy.


What would you tell your 21-year-old self?

I would tell myself to exercise a bit more; otherwise nothing.


If you were Health Minister for the day what changes would you implement?

I’d give pay rises to all nursing staff to try to attract people away from agencies and back to the NHS to reform those teams that used to work so well. In the long term, this would save the NHS a lot of money.


Working in orthopaedic surgery is great because…?

You get to help people return to normal activities.


If you had to name the one person that has had the greatest influence on your career, who would it be?

Mr Jerry Lemon (now retired) inspired me to become an orthopaedic surgeon.


Away from the clinic and operating theatre – what do you do to relax?

I run three times a week and I’m a big film fan. I love spending time with the family, although this can hardly be construed as being relaxing.


How could the orthopaedic profession be improved?

It’s possibly a pipe dream, but I yearn for the days of consultant-based teams where we each had our own PRHO, SHO, registrar…


James Newman (Yorkshire Knee Clinic)

James Newman is a consultant in trauma and orthopaedics. His work is purely focused on knee problems and he treats a wide range of conditions, including ACL reconstruction, partial knee replacements, osteotomy and cartilage regeneration techniques.