He qualified in medicine in his native Pakistan and started working for the NHS in 1991, later becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.
“I always wanted to be surgeon, there was no question and that’s what I aimed for,” says Hanif, 52. He performed his first laparoscopic gall bladder surgery in 1991 when the operation was becoming popular throughout the country. And it was while training in Yorkshire – at Leeds, Hull , Bradford and York – that Hanif developed further skills of advanced laparoscopic surgery – often referred to as minimally invasive or keyhole surgery.
“I was fascinated by it and the training structure was so good, I just wanted to learn how to do it and develop it as my special interest,” says Hanif. “When I first came to Barnsley we didn’t do that many laparoscopic cases, just gall bladder procedures.
“I realised it was the future and we now do so much more: hernias, appendectomy, operations for acid reflux , as well as the gall bladders. We still do open surgery where appropriate for patients, but laparoscopy has so many benefits – patients have less pain and infection, they recover more quickly, and many patients can be treated as day cases.”
Hanif is committed to the teaching and training of medical students and junior surgical trainees who, just like him, are keen to pursue careers in laparoscopic surgery. He has been appointed a ‘college tutor’ by the Royal College of Surgeons of England and is an examiner for the Intercollegiate Speciality Board for General Surgery for the UK and Ireland for the highest degree examination, generally called FRCS exit exam. He is also a senior clinical lecturer with Sheffield University and has, at any one time, three trainees working with him at Barnsley.
Hanif also contributes regularly to the national and international teaching of laparoscopic surgery, sharing his expertise and knowledge.
“Barnsley has a good reputation because of the close supervision we offer trainees,” says Hanif. “It’s so important that we take the time and effort to teach and train doctors who then go on to become surgeons for future generations.”
As clinical director for general surgery, Hanif oversees a surgical team – which includes eight other consultant general surgeons – who treat urology, breast, gastrointestinal (stomach and intestine) and cancer patients across four wards including a day case unit.
In addition to these planned cases, Hanif is responsible for providing a round-the-clock emergency service. “It’s about getting the balance right – we need to provide high quality services for all patients, whether they are elective or an emergency.”
To this end, Hanif is keen to explore opportunities that enable more patients to be treated as day cases, using laparoscopic techniques. “We do so much good work here at Barnsley and score very well on patient satisfaction and experience – we just need to tell more people about it!”