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Doctor who helped save thousands of lives in North Wales retires after almost 40 years of service


A doctor who played a key role in creating a specialised breast service in North Wales has retired after 37 years in the NHS.

Dr Andy Gash was appointed as Consultant Radiologist with a special interest in Breast to North West Wales in 1995.

A year later, together with his colleague Consultant Breast Surgeon Mr Derek Crawford, they created a specialised breast service which involved setting up Rapid Access Breast Clinics at Ysbyty Gwynedd and Llandudno Hospital.

Dr Gash said: “When we first set up the clinics we saw 15 patients a week now we see hundreds of patients a week.

“Early diagnosis of breast problems helps to ensure that if cancer is detected the chances of successful treatment are greatly improved. It can be a very anxious time, so the aim of our clinics is to provide rapid access to a team of healthcare professionals who will carry out diagnostics and in majority of cases provide results on the same day.

“It was a privilege to be part of setting this service up in North Wales and see the Clinical Specialist Radiographers now lead the service after going through their rigorous training and exams over the last nine years.”

In 1998, Dr Gash introduced MRI breast imaging at Ysbyty Gwynedd followed by MRI Breast Screening for patients with high-risk family history.

In 2002, Ysbyty Gwynedd was the first hospital in Wales to purchase the Mammotome, a vacuum assisted biopsy device. The Mammotome allowed more accurate diagnosis and removal of benign breast tumours without requiring surgery.

Over the last 18 years Dr Gash has also been the Clinical Lead for the Breast Test Wales programme in North Wales.

“I’ve seen the huge impact screening can have and the countless lives it has saved. It is so important that people go for their screening when they are invited – it really makes such a difference,” he added.

Dr Kakali Mitra, Consultant Radiologist at Ysbyty Gwynedd and Clinical Lead for Radiology for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said describes Dr Gash as a ‘stalwart in the world of breast imaging’ and he will be sorely missed by all.

She said: “He has been a very important member of the Ysbyty Gwynedd Radiology team, Breast Test Wales team and the Breast Service at the Health Board over many years and has contributed greatly to the advancement of the breast service for the benefit of the people of North Wales.

“He will be greatly missed by me and all my colleagues to whom he has been not only a wonderful colleague but a good friend and a mentor to many. We wish him well in his new adventures.”

Dr Gash is now looking forward to spending time with his family, enjoying the outdoors and travelling now his retirement has started.

He said: “I will really miss the teamwork – I’ve been lucky to have worked with some amazing people over the years, from breast surgeons, nurses, pathologists, mammographers to name a few.

“It’s been very hard work over the years but it’s been extremely worth it to see the service grow and how it has helped so many of our patients in North Wales.

“The service has also allowed us to develop our homegrown staff which has been fantastic.”