Consultant Clinical Scientist in Nuclear Medicine, Mike Avison has devoted more than a quarter of a century working in nuclear medicine at Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI), part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease (which accounts for around 40 per cent of the department’s workload), gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the body.
Mike, who lives near Skipton was born at BRI and started work at the Trust in 1985 but the lure of sunnier climes saw him leave the UK for Saudi Arabia between 1990 and 1996, before the green grass of home called him back to BRI once again, where he has remained until his retirement.
A physics graduate from Lancaster University, his first job was at the Western General in Edinburgh where he worked in radiation protection.
He said: “When I graduated, the jobs were either in health or making nuclear weapons … I chose health!”
After six years at BRI, specialising again in radiation protection, where he was responsible for implementing the ‘new’ 1985 regulations which removed crown immunity from the hospitals and put them under the authority of the regulatory bodies, Mike spent six years in Riyadh and Jeddah, where he and his nurse wife Anila, combined work with travel.
Mike added: “MRIs were just taking off and the Saudi hospitals had some great equipment to learn on. The work life balance was also incredibly good initially and I really enjoyed exploring the desert and spent time scuba diving too.”
However having experienced the first Gulf War and with a deteriorating security situation, Mike felt it was time to return home.
He has seen many changes over the years in his role which covers all nuclear management across the Trust, including the move away from recording information from gamma cameras on film to computers. A gamma camera scan is a physiological measurement test which normally involves the injection of a radioactive drug followed by images capturing the distribution of that drug within the body.
A farewell lunch has taken place where colleagues wished him all the best for the future.
Mike said: “I will miss my friends at BRI. It has been a great place to work – with the friendliest and most efficient people you could wish to meet. It’s remarkable to think that I have spent the overwhelming majority of my working life about 100 feet from the place where I was born!”
Mike now intends to travel and pursue his love of flying microlights, as well as spend more time with his wife and two daughters, Zoe (24) and Sophie (22).
His first adventure is already booked for March when he sets off on a solo trip to visit Zoe who is currently working for the Mekong River Commission, in Cambodia, having graduated recently in environmental chemistry. While there he is also “nipping next door to Laos to explore the jungle and see gibbons and elephants in the wild.”