Dr Michael McCormick - Ordinary Member Representing Northern Ireland

Dr Michael McCormick MB BCh BAO, MD, MMedSci, FRCP

I am a Consultant Stroke Physician and Geriatrician in the Southern Health and Social Care trust in Northern Ireland (NI). I am the trust clinical lead for stroke. Approximately 600 strokes are admitted per year and there is a well-established 24/7 telemedicine thrombolysis service covering what is predominantly a rural setting. Thrombectomy is offered in the Belfast trust and processes have been established for early identification and transfer of patients. I have been a member of the BASP executive committee for approximately 5 years, having previously been the chair of the Northern Ireland Multi-disciplinary Association of Stroke Teams (NIMAST). Through NIMAST I had the opportunity to sit on the ICSWP and also in collaboration with the UK stroke forum arrange the annual NI stroke conference. It was a busy but also rewarding time as there were opportunities to meet with the then Stormont minister of health and departmental officers to push the stroke agenda. We have had in recent years an independent review of stroke services, a stroke strategy and a consultation on “Reshaping Stroke Services”. I have been actively involved in both research and education. I have had the opportunity to sit on the NICHS grant review committee, the NICRN and locally have been a PI for a number of multi-centre studies.  I completed a medical education masters in 2017.

Stroke and me

The year was 1998, 3 years earlier the NINDS trial had been published in the NEJM. I had qualified a year earlier and still remember patients being admitted with total anterior circulation strokes within a reasonable time frame and knowing that treatment options and outcomes could have been different based on geographical location. Northern Ireland had historically prided itself on the development of stroke units in the original work by Professor George Adams. Medicine advances and for my population I would need to upskill. I was successful in obtaining a Stroke Association funded clinical research fellow post in the Institute of Neurosciences through the University of Glasgow. My supervisor was Professor Keith Muir and at the time the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow was the most active thrombolysis centre in the UK.  I gained significant experience in thrombolysis, imaging, general neurology, tertiary neurovascular referrals and research trials. My main trial was on the use of novel imaging techniques to evaluate the effect of insulin on lesion volume progression in patients with hyperglycaemia. I had the opportunity to attend the NIH funded lab of Professor Steve Warach to learn MR image analysis techniques. Whilst there I had the opportunity to see my first catheter angiogram assisted clot manipulation. This was in the era before advanced retrieval devices.  I completed my MD and returned to Northern Ireland and was appointed to a substantive consultant post in 2009. As a doctor within the stroke speciality it has been rewarding to follow the journey of progression. This has included better and more readily accessible imaging, therapeutic interventions and recognition of the importance of MDT both within and outside the ward setting. Goal posts change, thresholds for intervening on patients presenting acutely have altered. Being an advocate for driving change and ensuring that accessibility to optimal treatment for your patient population brings its rewards.