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The English Surgeon
  1. T Greenhalgh
  1. University College London, London, UK
  1. Dr T Greenhalgh, 206 Holborn Union Building, Highgate Hill, Archway, London N19 5LW, UK; p.greenhalgh{at}

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A film by Geoffrey Smith, 2008, Eyeline Films.

Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh is the embodiment of professional virtue. As well as being technically skilled, he is dedicated, compassionate, humble, altruistic and driven by a deep sense of duty towards his fellow men and women. Periodically, he takes time off from his NHS practice to fly to Ukraine and serve unpaid in a shockingly under-resourced clinic where patients present with advanced disease and go without food to buy medication or fund their hospital stays.

When The English Surgeon, a documentary on Marsh’s work, was first released, broadsheets and tabloids alike chose to focus on the primitive equipment available in the Ukraine. “Handy Henry uses DIY drill for brain surgery”, announced the Times, illustrating the piece with a picture of Marsh holding the £30 cordless Bosch with which he opened the cranium of 30-year-old Marian to remove a brain tumour. In the UK, the same procedure would be done with a specially designed compressed air drill costing £30 000.

Reflecting on how Tanya, a young Ukrainian girl once bled half to death under his scalpel and spent the next two years paralysed and brain damaged before finally succumbing to …

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