Tuesday, 24 July 2012


We worked hard and we played hard would be a fair summary for many of us during our memorable and hugely enjoyable years as students at Guys.     Amongst some memories of the clinical period were the superb grounding we had with George Scott in his pre-clinical class,   the wonderful demonstrations of history-taking in Medical O-P’s with George Houston and some amusing moments:-  watching Willie Mann being banned by the ward Sister from entering his ward because his shoes were not clean enough and, Embarrassing moments;-  a) for the patient -  Witnessing Lollie Forman making an attractive 19 yr old female patient being made to undress down to her underwear in order to demonstrate a small patch of eczema on her lower leg and     b) for myself - During my first week on the wards as a junior surgical ward-clerk on a combined round with Sir Hedley Atkins, being asked to demonstrate a breast lump only to be told I was palpating a costal cartilage!

        I was fortunate enough to represent Guys at three sports, Cricket, Golf and Squash.    The cricket tours at Thatchings near Bognor were the highlight of the season and some of you may recall the inscription over the entrance door  'This building was donated to the hospital for the use of tired students and nurses’.     Bed and breakfast cost 14 shillings/night for students,   17shillings for Junior Housemen and S.H.O’s and the princely sum of £1 for registrars.    As treasurer of the Cricket Club my job was to ensure we had enough money to entertain our guests and ourselves with enough (?too much) liquid refreshment at our matches and this was achieved by selling the 250 permitted tickets at the "hops" in the Students Union twice over, thereby grossly infringing the fire regulations.     Our Squash team also went on tour (one member was Sir Cyril Chantler) to Oxford and Cambridge where we played creditably against the Squirrels and the Ganders , the University 2nd teams.

     I did three house jobs at Lewisham in Orthopaedics and trauma and  medicine, which included some Paediatrics which in turn stimulated a career long interest and Obstetrics. How little we knew as we started our careers as H.S’s and H.P’s and how much we relied on the wise Ward Sister for advice and guidance.    Because of the timing of my birthday I qualified too young at 22 and felt I needed more experience of life before entering General Practice which had from an early age always been my objective. 18 months as a ships surgeon with the P.and O lines after house jobs helped me through that problem, in the days when air travel was less popular and the largest liners were doing deep-sea voyages sometimes with no port for 5or 6 days. Surgical emergencies were managed with the assistance of Hamilton Bailey’s Emergency Surgery and the Ship’s Captain's Medical guide ostensibly for the use of the 2nd mate, when no doctor was on board used ‘No tarnishing of the mirror’ as the definitive sign of death. The catalogue of medical adventures which occurred is far too long for this blog. 

     Back to reality and a year at Pembury with Mike Jacoby’s father, Norman who was I believe the first Paediatric physician to use steroids in asthma and a great teacher who gave me the confidence needed as a new partner in general practice in Newbury where Paediatrics became a particular interest. I also became involved with hospital Paediatrics looking after a small ward and doing a weekly OP session at Newbury Hospital for 23 years with Chris Newman, another Guys graduate. I have been very fortunate to have a non-medical but very understanding wife who has given me two children, one of whom is a consultant Paediatrician with cardiological interest and before I retired 10 years ago three of the best partners I could imagine.

 One of the special times in practise was spent on a 6 week sabbatical as Medical Officer on an expedition/ trek climbing in the Himalayas in uncharted territory circuiting Dhaulagiri the world’s seventh highest mountain and the most westerly of the great Nepalese 8000 metre peaks. We were on the go for 27 days reaching 5375 metres and I developed a waist for the first time in my adult life losing over 8 kgs in weight, but had never felt so fit since student days. Altitude sickness is still not fully understood and remains a fascinating condition both physiologically and symptomatically. Current interests are gardening, golf, and photography (some professional) and of course the growing family.           Paul Sievers

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