Professor Max Watson, Director of Project ECHO at Hospice UK, has been awarded an MBE for his contribution to palliative care medicine.


Alongside his role at Hospice UK, Max is a Palliative Medicine Consultant at Western Trust, Omagh and holds honorary positions at St. Margaret’s Hospice, Taunton, St. John’s Medical School, Bangalore, Queens University, Belfast, and Princess Alice Hospice, Surrey.

Max’s clinical work has made huge contributions to the sector. At Princess Alice Hospice Max developed the European Certificate in Essential Palliative Care which has now been running for over 20 years and has been completed by more than 20,000 clinicians across the UK and internationally. A pioneer of the use of bedside ultrasound in palliative care, he created the Focused Abdominal Sonography Program in palliative care ultrasound, which has trained around 400 doctors and nurses.

In his current role at Omagh Hospital, Max has addressed challenges in consultant recruitment in rural areas, developing an Integrated Care Fellowship programme to locally train up consultants in palliative care and care of the elderly medicine. The program has been running for eight months and picked up by several areas across the UK facing similar recruitment gaps. He has also supported the Hospice Friendly Hospitals program in Dublin improving the delivery of palliative care in acute hospitals across Ireland.

Beyond his clinical work, Max has edited multiple editions of the Oxford Handbook of Palliative and End of Life Care and published 10 books on palliative care and oncology. 

His work with universities includes supporting the University of Ulster in their bid to become a medical school in palliative care teaching and delivering undergraduate teaching on breaking bad news at Queen’s University, Belfast. For 18 years Max was responsible for the mandatory training in palliative care, ethics and breaking bad news for all F2 doctors in Northern Ireland.

Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice and end of life care. Here Max oversees Project ECHO (a worldwide virtual training movement based on the principal of everyone a teacher everyone a learner). Under Max’s stewardship, the project has grown to 30 clinical networks each year on topics from care homes to prisons, eye care to diabetes. During the pandemic it allowed Hospice UK to quickly adapt and support the sector, with the weekly clinical ECHO becoming essential for the palliative care community with more than 300 participants attending each week.

Max has also worked to expand the ECHO movement across the UK, resulting in over 400 networks established by the 60 organisations trained in echo methodology.

Professor Max Watson says: “There are many unsung people working in palliative care and in Project ECHO in the UK and across the world who deserve awards more. However, I deeply appreciate that colleagues have chosen to nominate me in this way for their affirmation and care. The true opportunity that such an award offers is to highlight the commitment and dedication of so many people who seek to reduce suffering and improve the care of those who are most vulnerable."

Toby Porter, CEO of Hospice UK says: “We could not be more delighted that Max’s lifetime of service and dedication to palliative and end of life care have been recognised with an MBE. Max is an exceptional Doctor, who has dedicated his entire career to individuals in need of palliative care and to those dear to them. We could not be more proud to count this skilled and compassionate individual and champion for palliative and hospice care as our friend and colleague at Hospice UK. This award could not be more deserved.”