Professor Andrew Hartle: Lost in the ether: missing perspectives within anaesthesia | Association of Anaesthetists

Professor Andrew Hartle: Lost in the ether: missing perspectives within anaesthesia

Professor Andrew Hartle: Lost in the ether: missing perspectives within anaesthesia

Dr Andrew Hartle

Professor Andrew Hartle is Professor of Practice of Anaesthesia at Imperial College Healthcare and a consultant anaesthetist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. He was born in 1965 in and grew up in Essex and Hampshire. Professor Hartle identifies as a gay man. In 1996 he was outed by the News of the World and was subsequently suspended then dismissed from the Royal Air Force. He was the first out gay President of the Association of Anaesthetists (2016-2017) and he currently co-chairs the LGBTQ+ Network at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

NB. This is an edited (shortened) version of  Professor Hartle's original interview . This summary and the accompanying transcript are for the edited version.

Listen to the audio recording or read the transcription of the interview.


Time code (approximately)
Point of interest
Professor Hartle talks about his childhood, his first awareness of his sexual orientation.
Growing up as a gay person and feelings of shame.
His experience of secondary school and how his feelings about his sexuality affected his attitude to learning.
How he decided to train in medicine and his "complete ignorance of what was actually involved.”
Going to Leeds University in 1982 and his experience of medical school.
His enjoyment of the television adaption of Brideshead Revisited and his discovery that Leeds was "nothing like Evelyn Waugh's romantic spires.”
The AIDS crisis and how the fear of AIDS affected his relationships. 
AIDS patients in the hospital where he was doing on-call nights as a student, and staff attitude towards them.
Joining the Royal Air Force in 1984 as a medical cadet, and life as a medical student pilot officer in an RAF hospital which was "actually quite a lot of fun.”
Choosing to study anaesthesia, the slightly non-hierarchical structure of anaesthetics and the feeling that it was slightly more LGBT-friendly than other specialties.
House jobs in the NHS at Hull Royal Infirmary and then being a junior medical officer at RAF Valley in Anglesey,1988, a job which he loved.
Starting anaesthetics in 1989 at Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Hospital Halton.
Enjoyable experience as a trainee Senior House Officer ("a sheltered existence").
Being at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus during the Gulf War in 1991.
Back in the UK, having to hide is sexuality whilst in the RAF.
Feeling of "no way out" and being stuck.
"living a lie" and the effect of that on his career.
Police investigation into a homosexual relationship he'd had.
Being sent with the RAF to Germany and how much he enjoyed ex-pat life there.
Having covert gay relationships in London whilst on leave from Germany.
Desperately looking for love.
How insular the gay scene was.
Working for the NHS at St Mary's in Paddington.
00:51:09 Caring for patients with AIDS and homophobic comments from senior hospital staff.
00:54:38 Homophobia in the NHS, and his first long-term relationship with another anaesthetist. 
00:56:08 Back in the Air Force in 1996 but deciding to leave.
00:56:38 Coming out to his parents.
01:00:44 Being summoned to attend meeting with RAF boss when it had been discovered that he was gay.
01:02:36 Being charged by the military with being gay, following a News of the Word story about himself and another man.
01:05:24 How the News of the World had got the story.
01:06:48 The process of adverse confidential report under Queens Regulations 1021.
01:10:18 How he defended himself from the military's charges.
01:11:36 Being ordered to resign from the RAF.
 1:12:32 Still not being allowed to use his military title or to wear his beret.
01:14:19 The Fighting with Pride campaign and recent changes to military policy.
01:15:43 His civilian career as an anaesthetist, working in the States and then returning to St Mary's, bursting through 'pink ceilings' by being first out gay man to be appointed in various roles including President of the Association of Anaesthetists.
01:17:17 His experience of being President. 
01:19:41 His marriage.
01:21:23 His portrait, painted while he was President.
01:21:38 The Lifeboxes for Rio fundraising campaign. 
01:22:57 Gay role models in anaesthesia, and lack of data on LGBTQ+ staff in the NHS.
01:24:45 The importance of LGBTQ data. 
01:28:37 How gay anaesthetists have to keep coming out. 
01:30:47 Co-chairing the LGBTQ Staff Network at Imperial College Healthcare.
01:33:34 Ways in which LGBTQ staff could be enabled to have a more positive working life.
01:40:43 Advice for young people in the LGBTQ community who are interested in a career in anaesthesia.