Monday, 25 June 2012


       I had "done" Chemistry,Zoology and Botany at "S" only needed to do Physics  [Applied to Medicine!] for 1st M B.     BUT we were "advised to attend the other subjects" to get a handle on real Science. I remember "Aggie" Shaw chain smoking through a practical Chemistry class,  Dr. Gent writing the formulae for Mass Action with his Right hand and rubbing it off with his Left hand.      My colleague for Physics was Mike Bradshaw,and we managed to convert a rheostat into a "one-bar "electric fire by "poor wiring"..Dr Joseph   [anatomist] had set the Guy`s Physics Dept the task of "finding the centre of gravity of the Human Body"..remember that the humourless Dr. Joseph was Anatomist to the Royal Ballet?.so armed with a plank and some 2" dowel we set about inebreated young hopeful asked if a ballet dancer was built like a rugby playing 16 stone medical student ....Mike and I determined that the centre of his gravity lies near the left lobe of the Liver...after lunch.

           2nd M B was really where it all began.   A hard slog,just learning a series of ?related facts...why start Anatomy with the Upper Limb.     ?Embryology was the worst explained of all.     Physiology had a rhythmn and reason to it,      but Pharmacology...if only Muscarinic receptors had been explained in English! .I was  interested in 5-Hydroxytryptamine.      I ventured to see Prof.Robson [Prof of Pharmacology] to borrow a copy of Brit.J. Pharmacol.      He told me that medical students were not allowed to read his library journals! Passing the 2nd M B was a huge milestone...probably for us all.

          Clinical work was a great joy and raison d`etre,   the encouragement to learn Medicine, via Patient Care,was exceptional. There were some down-sides,mainly Obst.and Gynae.I was late for Jean Morton`s female V D clinic    (because I had been giving Anaesthesia under the watchful eye of John Buxton at New CrossHosp.) and she was less than pleased.        Combined Rounds on Friday afternoon were memorable,as theStaff gave their own views and opinions.  Hedley Atkins lectures on Surgical Pathology were masterpieces,and a lesson in how to construct and deliver a lecture.  After House appts I became junior resident Anaesthetist at Guy`s,  this really meant "fagging" for the Consultants,   it was the superb Senior Registrars who taught us.       After a year of this I had two years as a registrar at the Whittington H. and later at the thirteen Hospitals in Brighton,and I learnt real anaesthesia from real clinical anaesthetists,  and was introduced to the concept of "intensive care".     Four years as an U.C.H. Nat.Heart H.  ,St.Thomas`H and G. O. S.  
             My first Cons. appt. London Hosp./London Chest Hosp...Consultants Dining room with waitress service at the former,and interesting people to talk to. After four years there, invited to join the staff at the Nat. Ht. Hosp. specifically to enhance the Paediatric Service.     These were the best years of my life,      there was money for"kit",   good will and a total commitment to hard and successful work,    the surgeon I had the privelege to work with was a master technician,and he left the rest of the care to us.      1989.a bad year,  the National Ht. Hosp closed to save the Brompton.     All the staff were exiled to SW3,   a few took "early retirement".     The Brompton was different,    21 Chest Physicians,   a good Cystic Fibrosis service,     12 Cardiologists,   mediocre surgery except for one thoracic surgeon and one established Paediatric surgeon.       Serious emotional and political problems amongst the surgical staff which impeded clinical progress and advancement,      and I think damaged patient care.      Twelve years here was enough ,the junior staff who were there to learn went home at 5.00pm, and one spotty youth told me ,after I had conducted a miraculous fibre-optic intubation with a double lumen tube      [the patient had a serious neoplasm at the carina] that I had not done "this according to the protocol".  

           Thus I took early retirement.  So, has the Class of `62 done "Dare quam accipere"? To paraphrase Pres Obama  "Yes we have".  Mr Wallis the boss of the Medical School office, told me that the class of  `62. ."was the worst he had ever had"  BUT we have given approx   1972 years of sevice,  teaching and inspiring other staff to the N H S, two Knighthoods two FRSs ,one P R C S , 10 Professors one R D ,one D Sc. 6 Ph.D`s 5 M.D`s, 45 Fellowships of the colleges,and in the autumn of life continue to smile.
                                                                                                                                              John Simpson

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