This month, our member spotlight is Dr Martin Dedicoat BSc, MB BS, DTM&H, FRCP, PhD. MRSPH. A Birmingham-based Consultant Physician with nearly three decades of medical experience and a passion for helping to eradicate infectious diseases. Here, he tells us about gaining a PhD in South Africa, his work helping patients with TB and how he looks after his mental and physical health.

Can you tell us a bit about your role and where you work?

I am a Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician in Birmingham, working at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust. My main interest is in the care of patients with tuberculosis including screening for TB in the community. However, my working days are quite varied. Currently, most of my inpatient work involves looking after patients hospitalised with Covid-19.

Usually in the morning I will do a ward round of patients on the infectious diseases unit. In the afternoon I usually have a TB clinic where I see patients with various types of tuberculosis and other mycobacterial infections. At least once a week, I join a conference with the health protection unit of Public Health England where we discuss patients with infectious TB and screening of venues where infectious patients may have spent time.

How did you become a Consultant Physician?

I qualified in medicine in 1992 from University College London. I worked in junior medical jobs including at a health post in rural Ecuador. This increased my interest in infectious diseases and the public health aspects of eradicating these diseases. I undertook higher specialist training in infectious diseases and tropical medicine in Birmingham. I then undertook a PhD in epidemiology, based in rural KwaZulu Natal South Africa and I ended up staying and working in South Africa for nine years. This time really sparked my interest in public health through having to deal with epidemics of TB, HIV, cholera, malaria and increasing incidences of diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases. I returned to the UK in late 2009 to take up my current post as an infectious diseases consultant, with responsibility for TB, in Birmingham.

What is your favourite part of your role and how does it help you to support the public’s health and wellbeing?

I like the ‘detective work’ aspect of my role where we try to find out how and where a patient caught TB and if we can stop it happening again. I also enjoy multiagency work between the NHS, PHE, local authority and other key health players.

On an individual level, I advise all my patients around healthy eating and smoking cessation as part of their TB treatment plan. And at a community level, I am involved in engaging underserved groups to encourage TB and blood-borne virus screening.

What area of public health are you the most passionate about?

Eradicating diseases which are often caused by poverty and disadvantage, especially infectious diseases which should have been eradicated many years ago.

How did you find out about RSPH and what do you hope to gain from your membership?

I found out about becoming an RSPH member through a recommendation from my colleagues. I hope to gain wider insights into public health policy in the UK, including how to influence it and to be able to network with likeminded individuals.

What do you do to take care of your health and wellbeing?

I look after my physical health through cycling which includes cycling to work. I also look after my mental health by not taking life too seriously, not taking work home with me and attempting to keep a good work-life balance.