Helen Fernandes was appointed as Consultant Neurosurgeon at the internationally renowned Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in 2002, the first female surgeon to be appointed there. She specialises in the treatment of both adult and paediatric patients with brain and spinal problems.
She trained on the Northern Region Neurosurgical Training Programme having graduated from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She supplemented her training with secondments to Great Ormond Street Hospital, London and the Montefiore Hospital, New York. During her training she also spent two years in research having been awarded the Louis Alexander Research Fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons and later a Hunterian Professorship from the same organisation. She gained her doctorate of medicine in 2000 and was then appointed as a Medical Research Council senior lecturer and honorary Consultant Neurosurgeon prior to her move to Cambridge.
Helen offers a wide range of neurosurgical expertise but has a particular interest in spinal neurosurgery. Her other special interest is paediatric neurosurgery, being Lead Paediatric Neurosurgeon in Addenbrooke’s. She cares for children with hydrocephalus, brain and spinal tumours, following head and spinal injury and those born with congenital spinal and brain disorders such as spina bifida. She is very proud to be a medical advisor to the Association of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus.
Addenbrooke’s is a very busy neurosurgical unit covering a population of over 3 million. Helen sees over 800 outpatients per year, performing over 250 major operative procedures annually.
Helen has just stepped down as an Associate Director of Postgraduate Medical Education in Addenbrooke’s and as Chair of a national body WinS (Women in Surgery), part of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. She chaired WinS for 6 years and during this time doubled membership to over 4000, WinS and works to promote surgery as a career for women with an annual conference, ongoing research, regular publications and close links with the Department of Health. A collaborative research project with the University of Exeter looking into the reasons that women may choose not to do surgery has just won some European funding and this research contributed Helen's recent award of the The Greg Wilkins-Barrick Chair visiting international surgeon award by the American Association of Neurosurgeons. She was also recognised as one of the Top 50 UK Surgeons by the Times Newspaper in 2011 and the same newspaper nominated her as one of the Top 100 Children's Doctors in 2012.