Professor Martin James - Ordinary Member

Martin James is Consultant Stroke Physician at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter, and Honorary Clinical Professor at the University of Exeter Medical School.  He trained in Southampton, and did his research in hypertension in the elderly with Professor John Potter and the late Professor John Swales in Leicester.  He has led the East Devon Stroke Service at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital since 1997, and was the Clinical Director of the South West Cardiovascular Network from 2008 to 2019.  His ongoing research interests in the South West Peninsula ARC (Applied Research Collaboration) include improving methods for the prevention of stroke, stroke rehabilitation and operational research in hyperacute stroke.  He was joint editor of the 2016 RCP National Clinical Guideline for Stroke, and since 2019 he has been the Clinical Director of the Stroke Programme and a Visiting Professor at King’s College London, which runs the national stroke audit SSNAP.  He has served terms as both President and Honorary Secretary of the British Association of Stroke Physicians.

Stroke and Me

Like many of my contemporaries I remember guiding the notes trolley and my disinterested boss past the strokes at the end of a long afternoon’s ward round, commenting that the geriatricians would be on their way to ultimately take them off our hands.  It was only later, as a geriatrics registrar myself and then as a research fellow in hypertension, that I became interested in both the prevention and the treatment of this desperately common and disabling condition, and developed the ambition to become a ‘stroke physician’ at a time when that specialty was barely recognised.  Thus began my career constantly seeking to improve the care and treatment of stroke, including being one of the first sites in the UK to introduce intravenous alteplase for ischaemic stroke, and one of the first NHS services to provide daily emergency TIA assessment.  Thankfully, stroke has come a very long way since the days when a CT scan required days of negotiation and elicited the response ‘How is it going to change your management?’  Caring for people with stroke and their families has always been hugely worthwhile and rewarding, and the advent of radical new treatments, at least for ischaemic stroke, have revolutionised the practice of stroke medicine in a few short years and dramatically improved their prospects for recovery.  To be involved with that progress through clinical research, audit, and service improvement through the clinical networks and national audit, has been hugely energising and you really get a sense that you are having a beneficial impact on people’s lives.  It also enthuses me to continue improving the knowledge base that we have around stroke and its treatment, particularly around how to fully implement treatments to the maximum benefit for the population, and to improve the quality of the services we provide to people with stroke.  Stroke medicine is a hugely rewarding and stimulating career, as I never tire of telling my trainees in Exeter – and an area of medicine that is destined to change even more radically in the years to come.