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Helen Fernandes

Consultant Neurosurgeon

, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

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Helen Fernandes: Consultant Neurosurgeon in Cambridge

Helen Fernandes is a Consultant Neurosurgeon at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. She is a specialist in the treatment of both adult and paediatric patients with brain and spinal problems including low back pain and sciatica, cervical myelopathy, cervical disc prolapse and hydrocephalus.

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Training and experience

Helen Fernandes 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 Helen 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.

A highly trained and experienced neurosurgeon, Helen Fernandes took up her consultant post at Addenbrooke's Hospital in 2002, where she sees in excess of 800 outpatients and performs over 250 major operations a year.  With a special interest in adult and paediatric spinal neurosurgery, she is skilled in the treatment of congenital, degenerative, traumatic and neoplastic conditions affecting the spine and spinal cord, and was recognised by the Times Newspaper as one of the Top 50 Surgeons in the UK in 2011, and as one of the Top 100 Children's Doctors in the UK in 2012.  

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 has since been elected member of the Royal College of Surgeons and is a council member of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons.

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. 

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Specialises in

  • Spinal neurosurgery
  • Paediatric neurosurgery
  • Sciatica
  • Cervical disc prolapse
  • Cervical myelopathy
  • Lumbar disc prolapse
  • Spina bifida and hydrocephalus
  • Spinal tumours, trauma and infections

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Clinical interests

Helen offers a wide range of neurosurgical expertise but has a particular interest in spinal neurosurgery, managing sciatica, back and neck pain as well as tumours of the spine. She is one of three complex spinal surgeons in Addenbrooke’s Hospital and also a member of the British Association of Spinal Surgeons, British Cervical Spine Society and the East Anglian Spinal Society. 

Helen's other special interest is paediatric neurosurgery, being Lead Paediatric Neurosurgeon at 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.

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Research interests

Helen has published widely with over 30 published papers. Helen currently is a member of the academic sub committee of the British Paediatric Neurosurgical Group and is leading a national registry project for spinal dysraphism (spina bifida). Current topics at Addenbrooke’s include imaging projects looking at the long term effects of treatment for hydrocephalus and tumour in children.

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Helen Fernandes in the media

For her specialism and expertise in the field of neurosurgery, Helen Fernandes has been featured in a number of media articles, such as:

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What patients say about Helen Fernandes

We wanted to thank you for making Katie well again, she felt unwell for so long and had a pretty rough time which she managed really well, including a trip to Cyprus and coping with being in year 8 in school. Actually she is so well now, no pain, no headaches or sickness and more lively. We know that shunts are the least of a neurosurgeons concern given what you have to deal with, but to us and to Katie, it is great whilst its working. Katie has recovered very quickly, no more pain and all very positive, she is embracing her condition for the first time in her 13 years and has kept her hair shaved, she explained that if she needs a new one again, she is ready.

by P, A & KW

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Accreditation and admitting rights

Helen Fernandes is an accredited consultant for the following hospitals, clinics and groups...

Professional details



Qualified in 2002 in United Kingdom

Registrations and licensing

  • General Medical Council (GMC)

    Registration no.: 3329823
    Date of registration: 14-Aug-1990

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Memberships and associations

Helen Fernandes is a member of the following professional associations and organisations...

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