In the news

August 4, 2000

Few will find themselves more closely involved in the changes envisaged by the new National Health Service plan than Graeme Catto when he leaves his present post as vice-principal of Aberdeen University.

In October, he becomes vice-principal and dean of the merged Guy's, King's College and St Thomas's hospital's medical and dental school - the largest in the country.

There is some surprise that an Aberdonian who is a leading member of the city's social establishment is heading south. But Scotland was arguably running out of suitable challenges. Since his appointment to Aberdeen's chair of medicine and therapeutics in 1988, Professor Catto has held a plethora of prestigious posts, including Scotland's chief scientist, vice-chairman of Aberdeen Royal Hospitals NHS Trust and dean of Aberdeen's medical faculty. He currently chairs the General Medical Council's education committee.

Educated at Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen, and Aberdeen University, where he studied medicine, Professor Catto won a Harkness fellowship to Harvard Medical School and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He has all the best qualities of a doctor - devotion and commitment to medicine, as well as humanity and wit.

He is extraordinarily energetic, with the ability to be ubiquitous and transcend barriers between organisations. A member of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, he has changed the way it tackles medical and paramedical issues, initiating a joint advisory group between Shefc and the Scottish Executive health department.

He is a visionary with less interest in the fine detail of how the vision should be implemented, and, instead of wooing opponents, he can be witheringly acerbic. He can also annoy colleagues by putting forward solutions before the group has considered the issues. This annoyance is undoubtedly compounded by his solution frequently being acknowledged later as the best option.

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