Professor Mark Monaghan awarded MBE

Published 25/05/2023

MBEs are awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community and Professor Monaghan has demonstrated this through his outstanding and selfless voluntary contribution to enhancing patient safety and quality of life, through the advancement of high-quality practice in echocardiography.

Professor Monaghan said, “I am delighted and very humbled to have been given this award. One cannot achieve half of what I’m supposed to have done without the help of others and this would not have been possible without the support of my colleagues at King’s, the BSE and other professional organisations with whom I’ve worked, and most of all, my family. I really hope that this will raise the profile of all hardworking healthcare professionals, particularly echocardiographers, whose expertise and endeavours often go unrecognised.”

Whilst Mark’s achievements will be known to many longstanding members, those who have joined more recently may not fully appreciate his accomplishments.

Professor Monaghan is a Consultant Clinical Scientist in Echocardiography and Immediate Past Director of Non-invasive Cardiology at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London. Over the past four decades, he has dedicated himself to the practice and advancement of echocardiography and has been at the forefront of every echocardiographic development (both technically and clinically) - his contributions to the field of echocardiography are immeasurable, his impact has been huge and has influenced global practice.

Professor Monaghan is an author of four books on echocardiography, multiple book chapters and senior or first author on nearly 400 peer reviewed research articles. He is an honorary fellow of the BSE and the Royal College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology and the European Society of Cardiology. He has previously sat on the council of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging and is the past Secretary of the International Contrast Ultrasound Society; in 2022, he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Echo Research and Practice. In this role, he has built on the strong foundations of the journal to increase the number of submissions attracted both from the UK and internationally.

As the second President of the BSE, Professor Monaghan introduced possibly the single biggest initiative to advance patient safety in echocardiography by instigating a personal accreditation programme. The concept of personal accreditation was met with quite a lot of resistance. But with diplomacy, and in the knowledge that this was the way to maintain the highest standards of care for patients, Professor Monaghan established an initial voluntary scheme with a time limited grandfather clause that allowed ‘established and experienced’ echocardiographers to bypass the accreditation process. This ensured a core group of people could set the examination for adult transthoracic echocardiography and run the practical evaluation. This has resulted in what is widely acknowledged as a world-leading accreditation process for echocardiographers.

One of the notable strengths of the BSE is its multidisciplinary membership and the acknowledgement between medics and physiologists/scientists that their echocardiography skills are equal. The membership consists of physiologists, clinical scientists, cardiologists, ICU consultants and anaesthetists. Many echocardiography societies throughout the world have a different accreditation process for medics and physiologists. However, under Professor Monaghan’s leadership it was decided that the scope of practice for echocardiography in the United Kingdom was so similar for both groups that the accreditation process should be the same, irrespective of clinical background. The process was robust enough that it was appropriate for anyone practising echocardiography, regardless of whether they were originally a doctor, a scientist, or a physiologist. The accreditation standard that was set then still applies today: “An accredited member of the Society is capable of performing and interpreting an Adult Transthoracic Echocardiogram in the most commonly occurring cardiac pathologies”. Although echocardiography accreditation is still a voluntary process, it has become the almost mandatory requirement for any echocardiography position in the UK. From this starting point the BSE has developed a portfolio of accreditations that have helped to ensure the highest level of echocardiography practice in the world. Indeed, our accreditation process has been franchised by many other echocardiography societies.

Professor Monaghan’s reputation extends far beyond his scientific and medical achievements and his dedication to learning. He is widely recognised for his charitable acts in relation to both his commitment to the BSE and as a founder of the Echo in Africa humanitarian project, which used the skills and training of UK echocardiographers to diagnose rheumatic heart disease in disadvantaged regions in South Africa. The programme targeted early diagnosis in children so that those with disease could be treated at an earlier stage in their lifetime, delaying the detrimental effects of the disease. This programme ran for approximately five years and saw over 200 UK volunteers travel to South Africa to assist with the philanthropic project. The rewards of the programme were threefold:

  • early diagnosis and treatment for children in South Africa with heart disease
  • education and training of healthcare professionals in South Africa and the sharing of knowledge and skills led to a programme of sustainability and transferability
  • UK echocardiographers had an opportunity to be involved in a volunteer programme which offered an opportunity for self-reflection and altruism combined

The impact of this effort saw almost 7500 children scanned, identifying 200 with previously undetected rheumatic heart disease and a further 55 with congenital anomalies.

It is truly fair to say that Professor Monaghan is a globally recognised pioneer of echocardiography and a consummate role model who stands at the forefront of our speciality. His unwavering devotion to the development of echocardiography as a clinical scientist and his dedication for over 30 years to the BSE, the national body that he co-founded, has defined the way echocardiography is practised today and how our scientists of the future are trained. Professor Monaghan’s unfaltering commitment to patient care is inspiring and directly benefits the 1.6 million+ patients who receive an echocardiogram each year. He is the embodiment of the principles that underpin the NHS and is truly an inspiration to all who practice echocardiography within the UK and abroad.

Dr Claire Colebourn, President of the BSE said, “Being awarded an MBE poignantly celebrates an individual's unique contribution to our society. Professor Monaghan has done that throughout his pioneering career forging a pathway for scientific careers to sit alongside and equivalent to their medical counterparts, breaking new scientific ground for the benefit of patients and playing a founding role in creating the British Society of Echocardiography. He is quite simply a giant of our profession. I am so delighted he has been appropriately recognised in this way.”

Mr Shaun Robinson, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Echo Research and Practice said, “As a world-leading expert and pioneer of echocardiography, Professor Monaghan is an inspiration to echocardiographers around the world, but no more so than within the UK. He has consistently supported and guided the BSE and its members since co-founding the Society in 1991 and through his constant scientific endeavour, has been crucial in developing and defining the worldwide practice of echocardiography. In doing so he has elevated the BSE into the globally recognised Society it has become today; we will always be indebted to Professor Monaghan. Recognition of his commitment and dedication to our Society, its members and, most importantly, the millions of patients across the world who everyday benefit from his lifetimes work is a unique and incredible achievement and truly deserved. We wish him and his family the warmest congratulations.”