Professor Martin Elliott Leo Wilkinson

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Former Co-Medical Director at The Great Ormond Street Hospital and one of the country’s leading paediatric surgeons, Martin considers his career in this most sensitive and high-pressure of worlds. From working with McLaren F1 to improve interaction between teams to developing stem-cell based transplants; from managing departments to taking the lead in the theatre, he has lessons that apply to any organisation seeking to improve what they do, innovate or understand culture, leadership and teamwork.


Martin Elliott is one of the country’s leading paediatric surgeons and served as Co-Medical Director at The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH). He has led teams in complex operations, managed large departments, and been at the forefront of medical and operational innovations for three decades. He is Emeritus Professor of Paediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at University College London, and Emeritus Professor of Physick and Fellow at Gresham College London.

In his role as Medical Director at GOSH, Martin engaged in transplantation, and led the thoracic transplant team. He has directed research into the pathophysiology of cardiopulmonary bypass, clinical outcomes and databases, and tracheal reconstruction in children pioneering several surgical techniques, including tracheal transplantation. Martin formed and led the National Service for Severe Tracheal Disease in Children.

Martin has worked with industries outside healthcare, including motorsport, aviation and with Nasa, to improve the processes and understanding of all involved. For example, McLaren F1’s pit crew helped reinvent how surgical teams hand-over to intensive care teams (one of the riskiest parts of the operation process) and how to spot potential problems before they become chronic, by comparing the vital signs of the child to engine performance data.

In an area where there is nowhere to hide (success and failure are a matter of life and death; families demand answers, and children ask blunt questions about what’s happening to them) Martin has worked to create a culture of accountability without blame. Allowing for failure as long as there is insight from that failure and enabling others to highlight errors regardless of their role or seniority.

Martin has delivered over four hundred and fifty invited lectures worldwide, including more than forty named lectures. He was the Hunterian Orator at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Other portfolio roles include being a Non-Executive Director at both The Royal Marsden Hospital NHS FT, London, and Children’s Health Ireland, Dublin. He is a member of the (advisory) Industry Council of Novartis UK and a Senior Adviser to PA Consulting Ltd. Martin was also a member of the recently completed China Tribunal considering evidence of forced organ harvesting in Chinese detention camps.

With stories from his career, as well as the wider health service, Martin provides practical insights into innovation, leadership, and culture, as well as a fascinating look at the surgery, holding a life in your hands, and what surgeons really think.


Martin Elliot on Leadership

Martin Elliot Conference Speaker

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Agent Recommendation

An extraordinary leader in an extraordinary environment, it's hard not to feel humble listening to Martin! In a wonderfully focused way he makes you want to be receptive to new ideas wherever they come from. While his goal might be trying to fine tune the handover of a baby from operating table to intensive care unit, it’s clear that the principles are the same whatever the process and wherever people have to work together.

JLA Agent Jessica Mears
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