By: 5 October 2021
Surgeon in focus – Thomas Crompton

Children’s orthopaedic consultant Thomas Crompton is a caring, dedicated and experienced surgeon, specialising in the entire spectrum of orthopaedic disorders in children of any age. With a particular focus on children’s trauma, the conditions he also treats include cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular conditions. A respected author and educator in his field, he is based at Brighton’s Royal Alexandra Children’s hospital, from where he delivers the best possible care for children in the London and South East.


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

TC: Like many doctors I enjoyed all specialities as a medical student and junior doctor. I think the most important attributes of a doctor are an inquisitive nature and enthusiasm which meant I think I would have been happy in many careers. However, when I worked as a junior doctor in the Emergency department at The Royal London, the specialists who attended that seemed the happiest were the orthopaedic surgeons, so I thought I would try it out. I got a job in surgery which happened to be in the Children’s Orthopaedic department at The Royal London and I’ve never looked back!


OPN: It is clear that the healthcare industry has been greatly impacted by the past year’s events, what has been the greatest impact for you within the orthopaedic industry?

TC: Thankfully children’s care has been relatively protected and children themselves are very rarely ill due to covid. However waiting lists are certainly longer and the stress and anxiety this causes parents, having to wait longer for treatment is the biggest impact.


OPN: What’s the best part of your job?

TC: Seeing children fully recover from injuries. Even if injuries are severe enough to require surgical treatment the majority of children will fully recover from them. The healing potential in children is much greater than adults.


OPN: … and the worst?

TC: Seeing children who have had unnecessary operations. Being a full-time children’s trauma specialist I know which broken bones in children require surgery and which will heal naturally with time and have the confidence to not choose operative treatment when needed. Too often I see children for a 2nd opinion after they have had surgery.


OPN: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

TC: Setting up the children’s virtual fracture clinic in Brighton. For the majority of young children hospital attendances can be stressful and involve time off school. We reduced the number of children having to attend fracture clinic by half. Feedback shows parents and children were delighted.


OPN: What difficulties do you face when working with young patients and how do you overcome them?

TC: Very young children are often frightened and it can be difficult to reassure them. In all the places I work there is an experienced team of nurses and other professionals to make the child’s treatment as stress free as possible.


OPN: Are you currently involved with any scientific research?

TC: Yes


OPN: Please can give tell us more about the research?

TC: I am a principle investigator in Brighton in a children’s trauma trial. Trying to decide if certain wrist fractures need fixing in children 10 and under. This is a multicenter,  international trial run out of Oxford that I am pleased to be involved in. The CRAFFT trial.


OPN: Are you planning to attend any orthopaedic events this year?

TC: The British society for Children’s Orthopaedic Surgery annual meeting in March 2022.


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

TC: A pilot.


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

TC: Take every opportunity life gives you.


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

TC: Longer term financial settlement and less political involvement in the planning for NHS. Politicians should set the budget but senior doctors, nurses and other health professionals should set out the long term plan for the NHS.


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

TC: Run, play squash, tennis and golf (when time). I play the piano badly but improving slowly.


OPN: How do you think the future looks in the field of orthopaedic surgery and what are your predictions for 2022 and the next decade?

TC: In children’s orthopaedics the future looks good in the UK. We have a well organised society that has set the national research agenda in children’s ortho. In 2022 and beyond we will provide robust evidence that many children’s fractures can be treated non operatively (as many of us children’s surgeons do already). However the research will give confidence to non children’s specialists in DGH hospitals.


For more information about Thomas and his work, visit: