This page contains obituaries for College Members and Honorary Fellows. It also links to information about how to submit an obituary.
The RCPsych was very sad to learn of the death of former Rainbow Special Interest Group (SIG) Chair Professor Michael King, 71, who passed away in September.
Michael, who was chair of the Rainbow SIG between 2009-2013, was a leading and passionate advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and played a key role in setting up the SIG – which promotes LGBTQ+ rights across the College and beyond – in 2001.
In recent years, the SIG has gone on to become one of the most high-profile and influential committees within the RCPsych.
As a leading academic psychiatrist, Michael was Professor of Primary Care at University College London, where he helped to turn the UCL Division of Psychiatry into a leading centre of research and training.
Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Michael was the son of Bruce King, a farmer, and his wife, Patricia.
After attending Rangiora High School, he took a degree in Zoology at Canterbury University, Christchurch, then qualified in medicine in 1976, at Auckland University, also training there as a physician.
In 1977, he came to the UK and undertook training in general practice and in psychiatry, both in London.
In 1984, he started work at the Institute of Psychiatry, becoming a consultant.
In 1989, he went to the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, where he became Professor of Psychiatry.
In 1998, the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine was subsumed within UCL, along with its Department of Psychiatry, which later became the UCL Division of Psychiatry, of which Michael was Director until 2014.
As well as being an active member of the RCPsych, he was also a member of Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Physicians.
Michael mentored and trained many mental health practitioners and supervised more than 30 PhD students.
With his considerable skills in Spanish, French and German he also delivered keynote lectures internationally.
As a prominent advocates for gay rights, he courageously challenged attitudes to homosexuality.
In the early 90s, he addressed the stigma facing relatives of Aids victims by calling successfully for sensitive information to be withheld from death certificates without compromising Aids death statistics.
Working with the forensic psychiatrist Gill Mezey, he was among the first to undertake research with male victims of sexual assault, looking at the impact on their mental health.
His book on this was published in 1992. Out of this came the definition of male rape used in legislation.
In the late 1980s and early 90s, Michael was invited to serve as an expert witness in cases concerning child custody where one of the parents was gay.
It was then considered that a child was at risk when a parent was declared to be gay.
He provided expert evidence in court that this was not the case, contributing to a change in attitudes.
He also worked with the Church of England Synod on equality in the church for people of all sexualities and was an outspoken critic of gay conversion therapy.
He retired in April, but continued completing publications and his PhD supervisions right up to his death.
Michael was an energetic walker, runner and swimmer, and was recently diagnosed with pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis.
In 1984 he met Irwin Nazareth at the Gay Medical Association.
They entered a civil partnership when it first became legal in 2006 and married in 2017.
He is survived by Irwin and by two nieces and a nephew.
Rainbow SIG Chair Dr Pavan Joshi said: “Michael was a groundbreaker and a great leader in the fields of LGBTQ+ rights and psychiatry.”
“He started his courageous and outspoken promotion of the rights of LGBTQ+ people at a time when to do so was frowned upon by many and carried some personal risk. Through his passionate and energetic advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights, he helped to transform the landscape and make our society so much more inclusive and welcoming.”
“For many LGBTQ+ doctors, and their allies, Michael will always be a huge and important figure. He will be missed by many.”
Rainbow SIG member and friend of Michael, Professor Helen Killaspy said: “Michael was a global leader in research on the mental health of people from sexual minorities.
“He was also an extremely courageous advocate for LGBT+ people.
“His expertise was often sought on relevant consultations and debates, and he was never afraid to tackle controversial subjects, always providing wise counsel with an open heart, firmly based in science and evidence.
“He also had a great sense of humour - he was a truly exceptional person who is very much missed.”
Obituary by Lucy Pedler, Dr Freeston's daughter.
Una De Havilland Freeston, born on 4 March 1928, died peacefully on Monday 13 September 2021, aged 93.
She had, at the early age of 11, decided that she wanted to become a child psychiatrist. This was already unusual for a girl born in 1920s’ Britain but made more challenging by the fact that her father, Sir Brian Freeston, requested and was given a civil service position in Africa when the second world war started in order to keep his three daughters away from wartime Britain.
They grew up in Tanzania (then Tanganyika), but the school her parents thought would be most suitable for her was in Kenya, meaning that mum at the tender age of 13 travelled for five days unaccompanied by adults (and often in charge of younger children attending the same school) on trains, buses and a boat across Lake Victoria to get to school each term.
This experience, together with her parents' encouragement to be independent and free-spirited, was seminal in developing my mother’s character. She went to pre-med in Canada at 16 and then to medical school in London, where she met and married my father, Kit Pedler (co-inventor of Dr Who's Cybermen).
Throughout her life, my mother dedicated her work to help families stay together, resolve their difficulties, and move on to happier times. She improved countless families lives with her kind but determined approach to family therapy. She was a Quaker, was extraordinarily generous (“I want to die penniless,” she always said) and believed in the power of love.
Mum had no regrets and by the age of 80, she had two remaining wishes that she managed to fulfil: to travel around the world on her own and to do a tandem parachute dive. She had a somewhat daunting trust in everyone.
My older (deceased) brother, Mark, was convinced she was going to be beheaded as she travelled through Afghanistan during her solo round the world trip in 2008. She came back intact and full of adventure stories including having a photo taken on the back of a motorbike with a Kalashnikov, despite her anti-war beliefs.
Una leaves three of her four children (Carol, Lucy, and Justin), numerous grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Consultant child psychiatrist, St Augustine’s, Canterbury (b 1928; London 1951; DCH RCP Lond, DPM, FRCPsych), died from aspiration pneumonia on 13 September 2021.
Dr Stanford (“Sandy”) Bourne will be especially remembered for his work in the field of bereavement in cases of stillbirth and neonatal death. He was a consultant at the Tavistock Clinic until his retirement in 1993 and was a Fellow of the Royal College for over 40 years. He died on 30 July 2021, aged 92.
Sandy studied Medicine at UCL and University College Hospital, qualifying in 1952. He specialised in psychiatry and became a psychoanalyst, undergoing his training analysis for many years with Hanna Segal.
Work carried out by Sandy, together with his colleague and friend Dr Emanuel Lewis, helped to bring fundamental changes to the way in which the medical and other professions respond to stillbirth and neonatal death.
In 1960, as a senior registrar and psychoanalytic trainee, Sandy encountered two patients who had persistent depressive problems after having stillbirths and was surprised to find nothing in the professional literature. His psychoanalytical instinct led him to suspect that this silence was itself significant and interesting.
For some years he sought to conduct his own research but found family doctors extraordinarily resistant. Finally, he sent questionnaires to 200 family doctors, asking about psychological symptoms following live births and stillbirths. Strikingly, in the stillbirth group, very few doctors responded with any information at all.
The result was Sandy’s 1966 paper, The Psychological Effects of Stillbirths on Women and Their Doctors. As he said in the paper: “The stillbirth doctors know less, remember less, and appear to be able to think less about their patients than the live birth doctors.” And “in addition to her own sadness and anxieties, a woman experiencing a stillbirth is liable to be bereft of medical help owing to the unconscious alienation of her doctor’s interest from her and her family or because the doctor-patient relationship breaks down.”
The paper was published by the Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners. This launched a quarter of a century of work that Sandy and Dr Lewis would conduct together. During those 25 years, the world would discover the importance of allowing parents a proper grieving process, giving the baby a name and a funeral. All involved, including midwives, doctors, priests and funeral directors, needed to recognise that a human being had died and to respond appropriately, instead of pretending that nothing had happened and brushing it under the carpet.
In 1992, Drs Bourne and Lewis published Psychological Aspects of Stillbirth and Neonatal Death, an annotated bibliography that looked back over the work done and the progress made. By then, SANDS, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society had become a network of 200 self-help groups, and there were published guidelines to help all those who worked in this area.
Whilst Sandy’s primary professional activities were psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, he maintained his vigorous interest in medicine, passing the MRCP exam in 1957. Fittingly, he went on to play a prominent role in organising Balint groups, also known as GP seminars, at the Tavistock Clinic. These became a standard part of training programmes for GPs, developing their expertise at managing and understanding their emotional interaction with patients. Sandy helped to extend this approach to other professions, including solicitors and probation officers. He then organised a programme of seminars for physiotherapists, exploring their relationship with both doctors and patients. This became the basis for a book, Under the Doctor (Avebury, 1981).
Sandy’s legacy to the profession also includes improvements to the system of BMA distinction awards. In a series of papers published by the BMJ between 1975 and 1982, he and a colleague, Dr Peter Bruggen, investigated and exposed the inconsistencies in what was then a fiercely secret process. In particular, they discovered that consultants in some areas, including psychiatry and geriatrics, received fewer awards and waited years longer for them than those in other areas. They also discovered that awards to female consultants also were less frequent and similarly delayed. Their courageous, obstinate and determined work gradually paved the way for reform.
Sandy lived in North London with his wife Judith, who survives him, as does his son Charles. A daughter, Lucy, died in 1986. He enjoyed holidays at his cottage in the Dordogne region of France and was an enthusiastic (if not especially accomplished) pianist and tennis player.
Dr Ann Roberts, consultant psychiatrist. Born 1959, qualified London Hospital Medical School 1983, MRCPsych 1993, died 10 June 2021.
Dr Ann Roberts was a consultant perinatal psychiatrist who worked in Hertfordshire from 1997 until 2019. The week before she died she started working for the Practitioner Health Service, using her married name of Dr Ann Beckham.
She led the Thumbswood Mother and Baby Unit which was established at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn Garden City and which later moved to Harperbury near Radlett.
During her time as a perinatal psychiatrist she was an active member of the Perinatal Faculty. She was also a medical manager, clinical supervisor and mentor.
Her father Myron was an educationalist who met her mother Eva, a kindergarten teacher, while he was working as a youth leader for the British Council in Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War. They settled in England and had three children: Ann and her twin sister Dagmar, and a younger sister, Jill.
At school, she was a talented violin player but chose to study medicine instead. She went to Girton College, Cambridge and then the London Hospital Medical School.
She initially pursued a career in general practice, completing her training in Harlow. She then decided to change path and started her psychiatry training at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn Garden City before joining the St Mary’s Training Scheme.
She achieved MRCPsych in 1993. She completed her psychiatry training at the London Hospital before starting as a consultant back at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. She established the Thumbswood Mother and Baby Unit, developing it from a few beds on a general psychiatric ward, to become a highly regarded, accredited specialist unit for mothers experiencing mental illnesses to be admitted to hospital with their babies.
She went on to be instrumental in the later development of community perinatal mental health services in Hertfordshire, but for a long time she was the only perinatal psychiatrist in the region. Initially, she combined her perinatal work with liaison and general psychiatry but focussed on perinatal psychiatry when the unit moved to the Harperbury site.
Ann supported her patients and her colleagues through difficult times. Her wisdom and kindness were extraordinary. She was an inspiration to all who knew her. Although she had a history of cardiac arrhythmias and had a pacemaker for twenty years, her death was sudden and unexpected. She suffered a myocardial infarction due to a coronary artery dissection.
She married Michael Beckham, a prominent television journalist who had been a producer-director of the influential World in Action series. Together they shared a wide range of interests in art, music and travel. Michael died in 2017. They are survived by their children Daisy and Alexander.
Dr Vijayapura C. Devakumar, former Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director Burnley and Rossendale Hospitals Trust until 1995. Born 28 February 1938, qualified (MBBS, Bangalore Medical College) 1963, died 3 June 2021.
'Vijay' Devakumar came to England to start his NHS Career in November 1966. He undertook a number of junior doctor training posts across the United Kingdom and successfully completed his MRCPsych qualification.
Following registrar and senior registrar posts, he was appointed as Consultant Psychiatrist in 1978 at Burnley and Rossendale Hospitals in Lancashire. He remained in this post up until his retirement in 1995.
After retirement, he continued clinical practice with section 12 mental health work and offering consultancy for a number of psychiatric units in the North West of England. He did this well into his 70s.
He was privileged to be recognised and attend the Bangalore medical College 50 Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2005 and took great joy in meeting his fellow classmates and friends.
In his later years, he enjoyed the company of his grandchildren, indulged his passion for travelling and sought great pleasure and satisfaction in supporting countless friends and family in making their first steps into the NHS from overseas.
He was an avid stamp and coin collector and enjoyed learning about technology and the stock market which earned him a full-page interview in the Daily Mail!
He leaves behind, Pushpa, his wife and life partner of nearly 56 years and two children, both in the medical profession and four grandchildren. He will be missed and remembered by all who ever had the pleasure of meeting him. He was laid to rest close to his home in Cheadle on 10 June 2021.
Professor Julian Paul Leff died at home after a long illness at the age of 82 on Tuesday 23rd February, surrounded by the family he loved. A true pioneer in Social Psychiatry, he was one of the early researchers in cross-cultural psychiatry in the UK. A passionate advocate for global challenges, he was an innovative researcher and teacher around the world.
He was born on 4 July 1938 above his father’s surgery into a family with socialist ideals. It was here that he learnt to advocate for individuals with psychiatric disorders, their families and carers which he did with great aplomb and success throughout his life. His parents met while helping men who were on a hunger march organised by the National Unemployed Workers Movement (NUWM) which was the Jarrow march with over 2000 marchers coming to London, with over a quarter of a million supporters attending the rally in Hyde Park.
Sam, Julian’s father was one of the early supporters of the NHS and his mother Vera (nee Levy), a novelist, was one of the founders of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament following her disillusionment with the Communist Party in 1956. Thus he learnt his campaigning ideals very early on which stayed with him all his life.
Julian’s maternal great-grandfather, Marcus, left Ianova in Lithuania where he was born. Like three brothers before him, at age 18 he was sent away by his own father, Isaac in order to avoid being conscripted into the Russian army. Marcus swam across the river Vlei at night in order to evade the sentries at the border. He managed to make his way to Hamburg from where he embarked for Leith, the port of Edinburgh where his brother Morris now lived. Speaking no English, Marcus carried with him a note on which was written ‘I want to go to Leith’ but on arrival at his destination, when he read it to an official as a result of his mispronunciation, he was put on a train to Leeds. Knowing no-one there, he found his way to the Belgrave St. synagogue, was welcomed by the cantor Isaac Cohen from Ulm, Germany, who had three unmarried daughters, and in 1884 was to become Marcus’s father-in-law.
Eventually Marcus, Minna, and their baby Joe (Julian’s grandfather) finally took the train to Edinburgh, where many years later, Julian’s own mother Vera was born. The family history influenced Julian to becoming sensitive to issues related to families, heritage and cultural differences―all issues which remain the cornerstone of practice of social psychiatry. The family history and his own early experiences led him to believe passionately in working with families and supporting them, aware that the major burden of care falls on relatives.
Julian spent the war years with his extended family, including maternal grandparents, in Princes Risborough, a picturesque village outside London, which Professor Haldane had cited as a safe inconspicuous location where they were subsequently joined by his paternal grandparents and their parents whose house in Bethnal Green had been bombed. With his characteristic humour, Julian noted that although Princes Risborough was deemed safe, as of no strategic importance to the government and hence to the Luftwaffe, unbeknownst to Haldane or his own parents, the British Bomber High Command was sited in the adjoining small town of High Wycombe!
Julian trained at the Maudsley and worked closely with Professor John Wing who was Director of the MRC Social Psychiatry Unit along with Professor George Brown and Dr Jim Birley. Julian worked on expressed emotions and life events studies and assisting in development of Present State Examination. He became the Deputy Director of the Unit during which period he led on assessing the impact of closure of two psychiatric asylums in north London. He led on a remarkable study, following up patients who were being discharged into the community. He returned to direct the MRC Social Psychiatry Unit at the Institute of Psychiatry where he led on epidemiological studies of schizophrenia in different ethnic groups and in the Caribbean countries. Throughout, he continued with his transcultural work on the role of Expressed Emotion of carers and its relationship to relapse in schizophrenia as well as other research interests in public attitudes to deinstitutionalisation.
His contributions to the care of individuals with psychiatric disorders continued even after retirement when he developed Avatar therapy which has been shown to be effective in individuals with hallucinations and is being rolled out internationally.
His various contributions and research in social psychiatry led to him being awarded the inaugural Burgholzli Award from the University of Zurich in 1999, the Marsh Award for Mental Health Work in 2010, and the prestigious Pelicier Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Association of Social Psychiatry in 2017. He was awarded honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2015, the highest honour given by the College.
I had the privilege of working with Julian for four years from 1989. He was a wonderful kind and generous colleague and mentor. An enormously popular teacher and charming personality who loved socialising and had colleagues all over the world, some of whom came to the Unit to work with him and left as friends.
He was a true polymath. In addition to his passion for psychiatry and research, he loved playing the piano and cooking and with his wife Joan hosted wonderful parties at their house in Hampstead. After retirement for a number of years he studied musical accompaniment at Morely College, performed with a chamber group and also sang in a choir with his rich bass-baritone voice. He often swam in the Hampstead Men’s pond albeit in summer, unlike his father who did so all round the year. Julian enjoyed playing squash and pool with his sons. Over the years he studied silk-screening, and sculpture, and became an ardent silver-smith, designing and making exceptional jewellery. His truly wonderful sense of fun stood him in good stead when in the last few years he lived with a cruel degenerative disease with calmness and humour.
He is survived by his life’s partner, the noted Psychoanalyst and Transcultural Psychologist, Joan Raphael-Leff; four children [Alex, Jessa, Jonty and Adi] and nine grandchildren, including the four Norwegian daughters of his late stepson, Michael.
Dr Ihsanul Haq Mian, Consultant Psychiatrist. Born 1936, qualified 1960, died 30 January 2020 of valvular heart disease.
Ihsan Mian’s appointment as Consultant Psychiatrist in 1976 was the culmination of a journey that took him across two continents, three countries and three universities. What followed was a distinguished career of selfless dedication and tireless commitment to improving the lives of those with mental illness and their carers.
Born in pre-Partition India, Ihsan moved with his family at the age of 11 to the newly-founded Pakistan. Despite a five-mile journey to school, usually on foot, occasionally by bicycle or horse, Ihsan exhibited from an early age a drive to work hard, succeed and to make something of himself.
Having completed his medical degree in Bahawalpur, he first worked in rural Pakistan as an Assistant Medical Officer. In 1961, he travelled to the UK for the first time and was disappointed to learn that his medical degree was not recognised by the GMC. With characteristic tenacity, he worked as an operating theatre technician in Middlesbrough returning to Pakistan in 1963 to undertake further exams at Nishtar Medical College and earn GMC registration.
In 1969, accompanied by his wife Masuda, an anaesthetist, he returned to the UK where he worked in Middlesbrough, before entering training as a psychiatrist. Ihsan recognised early the stigma associated with mental illness and the burden placed on families and carers. He was astute enough to acknowledge the NHS could only meet some of the needs of these patients and in 1979, he co-founded the charity Support the Elderly Mentally Infirm, the first of its kind in Bristol.
Ihsan pioneered the use of a volunteer-led sitting service, providing much-needed respite to the carers of the elderly mentally ill. Ihsan established two day centres for the elderly mentally ill in Bristol, one of which remains operational at Southmead Hospital. Ihsan’s supervisor meetings were well-known amongst his registrars for being a mix of both psychiatry and education, but also Persian poetry and literature.
Described by colleagues as an ‘unstoppable force’ and having a ‘persuasive, implacable, respectful determination to do the best for those he served’. He served on the Mental Health Act Commission and the Health Advisory Service, the former for nearly a decade.
Ihsan wrote personally to local GPs and consultant colleagues on his retirement, also managing to include updated guidelines on lithium monitoring. It is a testament to the esteem in which he was held that he received over forty replies.
Following his retirement in 1998, Ihsan’s commitment to his work and to improving the lives of patients was not diminished. He was appointed to the Mental Health Review Tribunal, a role in which he served until he was obliged to retire when he was 70.
Ihsan’s attention turned to the Glenside Hospital Psychiatric museum founded by his mentor and colleague, Dr Donal Early, and sited on the former Glenside asylum where he worked as a consultant. His innovation continued; raising the profile of the museum by inviting local and international healthcare students for educational visits which he led himself, organising an official reopening of the refurbished museum with the Lord Mayor of Bristol and arranging exhibitions and a Doors Open day scheme. He secured a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £30,000 which was used to record oral histories of those with recollections of the hospital and to further develop the museum.
Well-known amongst family, friends, colleagues and patients for his humour and his charm, his kindness and generosity, his courtesy and his ability to recall an idiom and recite poetry in several languages, he was both a true gentleman and a gentle man. The world is a poorer place without him. Devoted to his family, he is survived by his wife, Masuda, three daughters and six grandchildren.
Dr Sheila Johnstone Dedman Milne (née Black): MB Ch B (1953), LMCC (1958), DPM (1965), MRCP (1968), MRCPsych (1968), FRCP (1978).
Dr Sheila J D Milne died from Covid-19 on 14 November 2020. At 89 years of age, she had enjoyed a full and active life. During her working life she had been somewhat of a trailblazer, being appointed Consultant Psychiatrist at Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow in 1968 - at that time, one of only a relatively few female consultants in the profession.
Sheila was born in Kirkinner in Dumfries and Galloway. Her mother, Mary (née Dedman) trained as a nurse at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, achieving the First in Year (1927) Gold Medal. Sheila's father was Dr John Black a Glasgow University Graduate; becoming a specialist in pneumoconiosis, and on the Pneumoconiosis Medical Panel for the Ministry of National Insurance. Also a police surgeon.
Sheila spent her early childhood in Leadhills, a small Lanarkshire mining village, where her father was GP. The family moved to Glasgow in 1939, where Sheila attended the High School for Girls, and where she made a number of life-long friends. She studied Medicine at the University of Glasgow (again making life-long friends, some of whom became colleagues) from where she graduated in 1953.
Junior medical posts were held at Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and the Southern General Hospital. In 1957 she emigrated to Canada with her family, where she earned her Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada. There she held a number of part-time positions, including a Clinical Assistant post in Psychiatry in the Ontario Hospital, New Toronto.
Returning to Scotland in 1960, she continued her interest in Psychiatry, developing a specialist interest in the Psychiatry of Old Age ("psychogeriatrics" as was), which prompted a period of secondment to the Maudsley Hospital in London, under Dr Felix Post.
In 1968 she was appointed Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychogeriatrics at Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Glasgow, a post she held, and which gave her much satisfaction, for 10 years. She considered it an honour when she was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1978.
She was remarried in 1978 to Dr Robert (Bob) Milne, a GP in Perth, and graduate of St Andrews University Medical School (1944). Upon moving to Perth, Sheila worked at Stratheden Hospital in Cupar, prior to retiring. Sheila and Bob threw themselves into retirement, discovering a love of caravanning (much to Sheila's surprise!), visiting every corner of Britain, and also making extensive and extended tours around Europe. Further world travel beckoned, and (minus caravan) they enjoyed trips to India, Mexico, Australia and the USA.
At home, they were patrons of the arts and theatre, with a full and active social life. Generous hospitality was always on offer to all friends and family at their Perth home. Throughout these years, Sheila retained a keen interest in the profession and maintained close ties with former colleagues. She regularly travelled through to Glasgow from Perth to attend meetings of the Senior Fellows' Club of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow (RCPSG).
Following Bob's death in 2016, Sheila returned to Glasgow to be close to her family, living happily and independently until July 2020, when she was admitted to the Glasgow Erskine Care Home following a fall. There she received excellent and tender care until her death in November.
Tributes paid recall a woman of great energy, determination, enthusiasm and warmth - and "with a smile that could light up the moon and the stars".
She is survived by her family; Richard, Susan and Alison, and grandson Fergus; and by Bob's son Alan and family. Sheila's ashes will be scattered in her beloved Leadhills.
After qualifying at The Maudsley, Eddie Kenyon was appointed Consultant at the Warneford Hospital, Oxford in 1964, a position he held (along with that of Clinical Lecturer at the University of Oxford) until his retirement some 20 years later. He was also a member of the Parole Board, and when he retired was appointed to the part-time role of Lord Chancellor’s Medical Visitor.
Eddie died of a stroke in November 2020 at the age of 91. He leaves a wife, two adult children and eight grandchildren.
Eddie was born near Liverpool and enjoyed a conventional upbringing until the age of 15, when tragedy struck: he lost both his parents in quick succession and was then cared for by his uncle. Despite this setback, from school at Denstone College he won a place at Cambridge to read Medicine, already set on a speciality in psychiatry. House jobs in Manchester, Edinburgh and The Maudsley followed, interrupted by a National Service posting to Cyprus in 1957.
It was in Manchester that Eddie met his future wife, Eileen, to whom he remained happily married for the rest of his life.
Eddie achieved a key career move when, at the age of 35, he was appointed Consultant at the Warneford Hospital in Oxford. This included a dual position as Clinical Lecturer at the University. During a long tenure in these dual roles he was involved in lecturing medical students, S.H.O.s and Registrars; running his own firm with 30 in-patient beds, 12 day hospital beds and three out-patient clinics a week; acting as an examiner (medical students and The College); researching and publishing widely. His specialist interests, reflected in both these activities, included female homosexuality; medico-legal aspects of abortion; Joan of Arc; Emanuel Swedenborg; and hypochondria.
In addition to his research and publications, Eddie will be remembered for the foundations he laid to establish the University Department of Psychiatry.“The high standards that you set on your firm, and the efforts that you made in post-graduate training and medical student education, laid the foundations for our work”, wrote the Department’s first Professor, Michael Gelder, in a retirement letter to Eddie. “Indeed, it would have been difficult to make a start without them”. Towards the end of his tenure at the Warneford, Eddie became a member of the Parole Board.
On his retirement he was able to expand on this area of activity by becoming a Lord Chancellor’s Medical Visitor, a part-time role which involved travelling the country to assess the psychiatric state of individuals under the care of the Court of Protection. He continued this role until he completely retired in 1993.
Having eventually put the lure of psychiatry to one side, Eddie was finally able to fully indulge in his other great passion – Opera! Together with Eileen, who fortunately shared his interest, they travelled the country and much further afield to visit the world’s greatest opera houses. One of the many highlights of these activities was being present at the opening of the Sydney Opera House.
Dr Philip Brown
Died: 19 October 2020
Phil Brown was for over twenty years consultant psychiatrist in psychotherapy at Lancashire Care Foundation NHS Trust, starting in this post as a new consultant and leaving only on his retirement from the NHS in 2018. His special expertise was in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and this was also a passion at the centre of his professional life.
Through most of his years in Lancashire Phil was the Trust’s sole full-time medical psychotherapist, providing a clinical service and leading psychotherapy training. At the same time, he was making a significant contribution outside the Trust. He took on the roles of College Regional Advisor for the Manchester and Mersey region and of Training Programme Director for the North West Deanery higher specialist training in psychotherapy, and he played an instrumental role in developing the psychotherapy curriculum in the North West.
His training activities were not just with psychiatrists. He was a highly respected teacher and supervisor in the former North West Institute of Dynamic Psychotherapy, and a loyal member of the Balint Society, where he was regularly a group leader at CPD events. In a more informal initiative, he co-facilitated a monthly forum where practitioners from different disciplines and organisations could come together to think psychodynamically about psychosis.
Phil had an encyclopaedic knowledge, along with the rare talent of being able to share this in a user-friendly way, as well as a commitment to the needs of psychiatrists unfamiliar with psychotherapy. In Lancashire, for example, he established the basic psychotherapy skills course which continues to run regularly. He persevered with trainees who struggled or did not progress well and was able to allow people space to develop and to feel respected even when he did not share their views. He brought a dry sense of humour, offering wry comments in his Aberdonian lilt. True to his psychoanalytic principles, Phil greatly valued his own professional supervision with Graham Ingham, then John Churcher, travelling across counties for this throughout his consultant career.
When Phil died, two years into his retirement, messages in the Trust where he had worked came from people who had known him as their trainer many years earlier and also from people who had not known him personally but had merely heard about him from colleagues or patients. The same themes appeared repeatedly. Phil’s colleagues spoke about his dedication to psychotherapy, his absolute commitment to education, and about his gentleness, thoughtfulness, and modesty, his sincerity and compassion. People spoke too about feeling personally touched and inspired by him.
For many of us, one thing that stood out about Phil was his willingness in a changing context to hold his ground about things he believed were important. This wasn’t a general resistance to change. His openness to new ideas was apparent for example in the way that his thinking about psychosis changed so that in the latter part of his career he increasingly saw psycho-analytic thinking as valuable to people with psychotic diagnoses. But when something he thought important was at stake, Phil was unflinching. He argued for therapies that he believed could help his patients, even when the length or goals of these therapies were not at all in tune with the times.
He persistently sought to provide colleagues with space for reflection, even when external pressures were doing exactly the opposite. He was never willing to accept the glossing over of what he saw as significant problems in aspects of contemporary mental health care and he was always willing to be clear about his views, including when these were highly unfashionable. He was, in the words of one colleague, ‘an analytical stronghold in the face of attack’.
Throughout the whole of his career, Phil’s diabetes and the complications he suffered, meant that everyday professional tasks were often a great deal more difficult for him than for anyone else. His commitments across the region had to be negotiated spending hours on public transport and, most distressingly for a psychotherapist, at times his hearing problems made even listening difficult. His enforced absences through illness created painful challenges. Phil was stoical; he talked about his ill health, but with no complaints about suffering or injustice.
Psychoanalyst James Johnston was a friend since beginning psychotherapy training in Leeds at the same time that Phil began in Manchester. Recalling a conversation in what transpired to be Phil’s final months, and in which he reflected on his career, James wrote: “Phil’s analytic attitude reflected his compassion and commitment to the truth of his patients' experience. Phil's heart may have become weak but he had a strong heart for hearing his patients' pain and anger in losing him when he had to end therapies after a long absence because of illness.
Phil's conviction in facing the truth of the pain of loss for his patients was mirrored in the profoundly moving courage with which he faced the truth of many losses because of his diabetes. One of these losses was that he would have liked to have trained as a psychoanalyst; it is a testament to his analytic attitude that he influenced fellow psychiatrists to train as psychoanalysts.”
Phil has undoubtedly succeeded in passing on his love of psychotherapy. He leaves a legacy of people with understanding and appreciation of psychoanalytic thinking, and many colleagues who admired and miss him.
Phil grew up in Aberdeen, with his brother Alan and his parents Ian and Madeline. His mother was herself a psychiatrist. Phil trained in Aberdeen and Glasgow and completed his psychotherapy training in Manchester. He was someone with a lifelong love of music, but it was only at his funeral that close colleagues learned that, as a child, he had also been an accomplished pianist. Phil spoke of his family often and very proudly. As well as his parents and his brother, he leaves his wife Rachel, his son Robert, his daughter and her partner, Emma and Charlie, and his new grand-daughter Elsie.
Elaine Catherine Beer (formerly Wright, formerly Donoghue)
Died: 12 October 2020
Parents: GPs (Mother was in the first year of female students at Glasgow).
Career: Trained at the Middlesex Hospital (only the second year’s intake of women students). Special interest in learning disabilities – consultant at Queen Mary’s Carshalton, St Ebba’s Epsom, St Lawrence’s Caterham (also medical student tutor and Medical Director there) and Aston Hall Derby. Honorary Consultant St Thomas’ Hospital London. MD, PhD. SOAD for the MHRT. Fellow of the Gemmological Association. Declined two professorships.
Yeah, yeah, you probably know all that already (apart from the FGA). But there was a lot more to her than that. Here are a few things (in no particular order):
First vehicle: a turquoise motor scooter called Charlotta Lambretta.
Car she drove when she was 80: 3 litre Audi A4 Quattro.
Top speed achieved in it: at least double the legal limit.
Lifetime total speeding tickets: one – 34mph in the centre of Norwich.
Resided at: Sloane Street, SW1 (don’t get over excited – it was a very small and cheap flat). Then Sanderstead, Purley, Kennington, Derby, Teddington and finally a former psychiatric hospital in Norwich (where a former resident had signed his name in the living room window: Harry ‘Poisoner’ Smith….)
Hobbies: knitting, crochet, tatting (ideal for those boring waits at red traffic lights) cross stitch, Honiton lace, gold work, quilling, baking, soup making, disagreeing with the satnav, never taking the same route twice if she could find a different one, never eating the same dish as any other member of the group in a restaurant.
80th birthday request: a gliding lesson.
Memorable encounters: Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton (not together!).
Unpaid activities: cake supplier for the Salvation Army café, soup supplier for church lunches, member of church dove feeding team, coffee bar manager for community theatre (they wouldn’t let her be a barmaid because she had never actually been in a bar), blanket knitter for premature babies unit, member of the Norwich Cathedral Broderers (highly skilled volunteer conservators of ecclesiastical vestments and other antique church fabrics), member of the Norfolk Club. Longstanding member of the Wing of Friendship – writing letters to prisoners on Death Row in Texas, willing to stand as last friend at executions. Paid for construction of a village health clinic in the Philippines and supported several children through school and university there.
Travels included: Damascus, Palmyra, Bethlehem, Carthage, Istanbul, Odessa, Seville, Porto, Oran, Gibraltar, most of Europe and a good chunk of the UK.
What you should remember: A tireless champion of those who could not speak up or fight for themselves, someone who saw the worth in those that society chose to ignore. An inspirational teacher, parent and grandparent. Made real and lasting improvements in the care of people with learning disabilities but shunned limelight and spent her life devoting her enormous energies to helping others. A sad loss but a lasting legacy and happy memories for many people.
Dr Mamoona Rana lost her life to Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection on 16 April 2020 after being unwell with it for a brief period. She was a much loved, highly regarded, enormously valued and committed psychiatric trainee at North East London NHS Foundation Trust. She will be remembered as a frontline NHS worker who sacrificed her life in the line of duty.
Mamoona was born in Punjab, Pakistan, the youngest of four children. Her dad passed away at an early age and she was brought up by her mother who doted on her. She showed a keenness to help others from an early age which is what drove her towards medicine.
She graduated from Lahore Medical College and then passed the Pakistan Civil Service Exam. She secured a job in public service and very quickly rose to the eminent position of an assistant commissioner following which she and her husband emigrated to the UK. She completed a Master’s degree in Health Informatics at City University London and passed the PLAB exam in 2017.
Mamoona developed an interest in psychiatry after doing a clinical attachment with a consultant old age psychiatrist who noticed her caring and sympathetic nature, a listening ear and a desire to help others and encouraged her to take up a career in psychiatry. Mamoona embraced psychiatry with the eagerness of a “child who had found a new toy” and she put her heart and soul into it. She secured a training post in 2018, worked through her rotation posts with great dedication, as she felt she had finally found she wanted to do.
At an early stage in her career, she showed a keen interest in teaching and was often located with medical students on the wards instilling them with her newly-acquired knowledge of psychiatry. Her enthusiasm for learning was infectious. She had enormous potential and there is no doubt she would have contributed enormously towards psychiatry.
Mamoona was a calm, caring and loving person who was intelligent, witty and full of life. Her colleagues will miss her hugely. The trainee who she job-shared with at NELFT said:
“She not only saw the best in others, but was gifted in bringing it out. We were all touched by her remarkable kindness, wisdom and humour and feel her loss deeply. ”
Her husband, Dr Azeem Qureshi, an anaesthetist at Newham University hospital, remembers her as a great wife and mother and a remarkable woman who gave hope and joy to those around her. She was very artistic and had a keen interest in calligraphy; many of her works hang around her house and are a constant reminder of a remarkable person. She was also a very good cook and a devoted mother. She enjoyed entertaining people and had a large circle of friends, who miss her carefree laughter.
Mamoona was buried in East London. Very sadly, her family in Pakistan were unable to attend her funeral due to the Coronavirus travel restrictions. She is survived by her husband, Azeem, and their eight year old daughter Narmin.
Obituary by: Afifa Qazi
MA MB BCh Dublin (1959), MRCPSYCH
Joyce was a general adult consultant psychiatrist practicing in Hull.
She was born in Dublin, Ireland as the only daughter of a textile mill owner. She was sent to Glengara Park School in dun Laoghaire, Dublin, where she excelled in science and tennis, representing her school.
Joyce went to Trinity College Dublin to study Medicine in 1954, where she enjoyed the Dublin University Biological Society and where she met her fellow student and future husband Jim, remaining happily married for over 50 years. After Houseman jobs, Joyce spent some time in Northern Ireland training in anaesthetics for obstetrics and gynaecology.
Once married, Jim and Joyce moved to Dumfries, Scotland and started their family. Joyce took a career break from anaesthetics to raise her three children and subsequently moved to Hull (via Northallerton) in 1971. When the children had started school, she recommenced her training in anaesthetics. It was during this period that she was approached by the local psychiatric hospital, De la Pole Hospital, and asked if she would help anaesthetise patients on the Mother and Baby Ward for Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT). As a young mother herself, she was fascinated by why some women suffered such acute postnatal depression – and her interest in psychiatry was born.
Joyce was in her forties when she became a consultant psychiatrist. Even after she officially retired, she was still practicing psychiatry into her mid 70s. It was in her forties that she required bilateral hip replacements, an experience that she was able to write about in several medical journals from the perspective of the doctor as the patient. She writes in the BMJ's ‘Personal papers’ in1984:
"Matters came to a head in the spring of 1983 when, as the duty psychiatrist, I was unable to straighten up after interviewing a patient in the cells at the local police station’"
She also published articles on claimants for compensation following war service and psychiatric aspects of urological conditions. It was said that she tried to preserve what is best among the older physical treatments (e.g. Medication, ECT) and combine them with the newer ‘therapies’ to give a ‘two feet on the ground’ approach.
Joyce enjoyed a 50-year medical career, after retirement working as a ‘second opinion’ until 2009. Both Joyce and Jim were active members of the BMA and both served separately as regional Presidents. They never missed the annual BMA meeting around the UK and frequently travelled all around the world on BMA conferences.
Joyce’s hobbies included stamp collecting and gardening. After Jim’s death in 2016, Joyce moved to Bishopstoke retirement village, Hampshire. She died peacefully from a subdural haemorrhage secondary to an unknown acute monoblastic leukaemia
on 12 April 2020. Predeceased by her husband of 56 years Jim (Director of Public Health, Hull), in 2016, she leaves three children (Jonathan, Joanne and Douglas (Professor of Orthopaedics / Southampton)) and six grandchildren (James, Emily, Meg, Eleanor,
Charles and Huw).
Obituary by: Doug Dunlop
The College in Scotland was deeply saddened to hear that former Chair, Dr Denise Coia DBE, passed away on 9 April 2020.
Paying tribute on social media, RCPsych in Scotland’s current Chair, Professor John Crichton commented “her extraordinary contribution to psychiatry, as well as the wider medical profession, can only be described as unmatched”. The immense list of all of her achievements and her impact on the profession is difficult to condense, but her accomplishments were ultimately recognised when included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2016 for services to mental health and healthcare quality improvement.
Initially a Consultant Psychiatrist working for Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, Dame Coia always had an interest in improving the delivery of mental health services, and set up several community teams and services in South Glasgow. From 1998, in addition to her clinical post, she worked for the Director of Planning and Implementation for Greater Glasgow Health Board within a joint social work/NHS mental health commissioning team. Its remit was to develop a ‘modernising mental health strategy’, focusing on shifting the balance of care from hospital to community settings. She designed specialist intensive community services providing an alternative to inpatient care; and keen to provide better support for young people with mental illness, she introduced early intervention services, leading the development in the treatment of people who present to acute hospitals with physical problems but who also have underlying mental health problems by delivering a new liaison psychiatry service and a self-harm nursing liaison team.
Dame Coia was also an active member within her Royal College, taking up the Officer’s role of RCPsych in Scotland Meetings Secretary in 1997, before becoming Vice Chair, then Chair from 2001-2005. During that term, she was instrumental in collating the views of psychiatrists regarding the proposals for the Mental Health (Care and Treatment)(Scotland) Act 2003.
Thereafter, acting as Principal Medical Officer for Mental Health for the Scottish Government from 2006-2011, Dame Coia was involved with working across a number of policy and performance directorates to support the development and delivery of national policy. During this tenure, in 2010, she was appointed Chair of the new national health body Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), whilst also adopting the role of Board member for the Care Inspectorate, its sister organisation.
Since 2017, she had been convener of Children in Scotland, the national agency for organisations working with children and their families. Latterly, she was asked to chair the Children & Young People’s Mental Health Task Force before stepping down in 2019 because of ill health. The taskforce was jointly commissioned by the Scottish Government & COSLA in June 2018 to identify the best way forward for children and young people’s mental health services in Scotland.
During her career, she has also held the roles of Senior Honorary Lecturer, Glasgow University Department of Psychological Medicines (1987-2011); Vice Chair of the Academy of Royal Colleges of Scotland (2002-2006); GMC Assessor, Supervisor and Advisor to Fitness to Practice Committees; and Chair, GMC Quality Scrutiny Board (London). In addition, from 1987 – 2012 she was involved in a voluntary capacity as a member of Support in Mind Scotland.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, wrote on social media that Coia’s “contribution to medicine, psychiatry and public service in Scotland was immense”. She was indeed a leader in the field of mental health, instrumental in the design and delivery of transformational mental health services; initially in the Glasgow area, and then nationally through her appointments in both government and senior public bodies. Consequently, the influence of her work has spread internationally.
She will be a great, great loss to the profession.
Colleagues remember her kindness and sense of fun, her sense of humour, approachability and consistent generosity with encouragement. Dr Pramod Jauhar, a colleague and friend of Dame Coia’s for many years, told the College “It was an honour and privilege to have enjoyed Dame Denise Coia’s friendship over the years. She was able to effect changes and improve the status and importance of mental health without acrimony, reflecting her calm, pleasant and affable manner. Despite her commitments, she remained a clinician who would be aptly described as a doctor’s doctor.”
Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with her family and friends at this difficult time.
If you have any personal comments or tributes you wish to make, please send contributions to Angela.email@example.com. The College in Scotland will be gathering a book of condolences.
Dr John Stuart Grimshaw passed away 23 May 2019 from Alzheimer’s.
His schooling was at Repton , Latham House. Here he met life long friends who played such an important part in his life. Similarly he enjoyed Jesus College Cambridge and University College London. He trained in Psychiatry as a Major in the RAMC at Netley and St Thomas’s London.
He was appointed consultant psychiatrist Southampton University Hospital in 1967, Honorary clinical tutor University of Southampton , member of the Home Office panel of senior consultant Psychiatrist and Member of the Mental Health Act Commission.
As a clinician he combined empathy with competence . A kind intelligent man , convivial, well informed, he possessed a great wit and charm and was always fastidiously polite and generous.
Amongst the many Tribunal roles that he undertook were Examiner and Observer of Exams at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Chairman of Southampton Medical Executive Committee . He was also the medical member for the Mental Health Review Tribunal for the South West Regions – a role he held for many years
Accepted as a Liveryman in the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries , as such he became a Freeman of the City of London.
John had a dress style that some might say was unique! Traditional but strangely quirky, lemon yellow trousers and old school ties, always content in his 70’s time warp of fashion.
He exhibited style on the Dance floor where he could mince and twirl with a lightness of foot that could have earned him a place on Strictly Come Dancing.
He was a happy traditionalist , who had a great love and knowledge of History and was a reliable source of facts and dates. Other great interests were Stamp collecting and he was elected as a member of the Royal Philatelic Society in 2010. He also enjoyed Steam Trains, Trams and Trolley buses.
He thoroughly enjoyed Hill walking – and guided by the great fell walking authors W.A Poucher and Wainright, he tramped and marched his way with others, in and around - up and over -the Peak District, the Lake district and Snowdonia which were some of his favourite places.
He married Anne in 1956 who died in 2018. He spent his final years in care suffering from Alzheimers. He leaves a daughter and son and three grandchildren.
Dr Chris Vassilas, who died suddenly in April 2019, was a highly respected retired Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry and Associate Medical Director for Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust. He had also been Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer University of Birmingham.
Chris was born in North London, the eldest of three children. He attended his local comprehensive school before entering Liverpool University to read medicine in 1975. After qualification he trained in psychiatry in Edinburgh & later worked with Professor Gethin Morgan in Bristol, as Lecturer.
He was appointed to his first consultant post in old age psychiatry at Bury St Edmunds in 1992. He was elected Chair of the local Division of Psychiatry just a year later in 1993 and soon became a member of the local Joint Strategy Group for the Elderly in Suffolk. Chris moved as consultant to the Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital, Birmingham in 1999 where he was Clinical Director and took on the role of assisting in the merger of services across the whole city of Birmingham.
Chris had an interest in Medical Education that began with his teaching experiences at Bristol. He became specialty tutor for Old Age Psychiatry in Bristol and then in Birmingham and later became Programme Director for Old Age Psychiatry and a valued member of the Regional Medical Education apparatus. He was the first Director of Medical Education in Birmingham introducing approaches to Continuing Education for Consultants that typified his pragmatic and efficient style. He examined for the University, the College and GMC and served on the College OSCE committee for many years.
Chris was a calm, consistent presence who contributed widely throughout the psychiatric community and perhaps particularly the psychiatric education community. Comments from a wide variety of colleagues used words such as “integrity”, “reliability”, “dedication” and “fairness”. Perhaps the comments that would have pleased him most were simply “the reason I chose psychiatry” from a former student now consultant in Birmingham and “Somebody who people aspired to be” from another.
Following his retirement from Birmingham, Chris worked for a period in Auckland, New Zealand which he enjoyed and which he and Janet followed by touring the South Sea Islands. He also continued his work and passion for medical education being a volunteer member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists educational initiative, teaching medical professionals and monks in Myanmar. He enjoyed active holidays, particularly diving and kayaking, as well as photography.
He is survived by his widow, Janet and daughter Eirini.
For 27 years as an NHS consultant, Sab Bhaumik lived a particular routine on Saturdays. He would turn up in his office at Leicester Frith Hospital to carry out the still pending bits of his academic work which invariably included teaching. Turning up to benefit from his generosity, would be a large number of students - from psychiatrists preparing for the Royal College’s membership exams to registrars getting ready for consultant interviews and consultants seeking guidance on assorted issues - clinical and otherwise.
I often teased him that these Saturday gatherings were hisdurbar and the response from this large hearted man was always a loud guffaw, as he continued with his long sustained routine. As a close friend remarked, Sab Bhaumik died the way he lived- on a Saturday afternoon in the grounds of Leicester Frith- albeit this time the cardiac ICU of Glenfield Hospital, surrounded by a large number of people he had taught over the years, an extended family that owed so much to this professor who always cared, who always had time.
Sab graduated in medicine from RG Kar Medical College in Calcutta in 1978 and then went on to work in the West Bengal Health Service in a place called Khatra. This rural outpost was as much a contrast as possible from the teeming metropolis that was Calcutta. What was lacking there in equipment, medication and infra structure, Sab made up with his commitment, compassion and honesty. These were traits that particularly endeared him to his patients who often travelled from miles around to see him. When he left after 3 years there were at least 200 people around the bus, waiting to see him off. Sab went on to join an MD programme in Pharmacology at the Benares Hindu University and it was with the medical students there that he honed the teaching skills that would go on to make him an inspirational communicator.
Coming to the UK in 1985, Sab Bhaumik chose Psychiatry, a medical specialty where he truly found his calling. Starting with the psychiatry rotation in North Wales in a hospital where his only son now works, he went on to complete a Diploma in Psychiatry from the University of London and then the MRCPsych. In February 1992, he joined Leicester Frith Hospital as a Consultant in the Psychiatry of Learning Disability. Over the next 27 years, he would remain with what is now Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, working in a variety of roles - lead clinician, clinical director, medical director and then after his retirement in 2013, a consultant psychiatrist and senior medical advisor to the board.
His influence in shaping policy went beyond the local. Within the Royal College of Psychiatrists, he was elected first as Chair of its Trent division and later as the Chair of the Faculty of Psychiatry of Intellectual Disability. He was credited with pioneering the tiered approach to mental healthcare provision and developing accessible information on medication for people with intellectual disability.
An author of over 100 peer reviewed publications and book chapters, Sab edited two editions of the internationally acclaimed Frith guidelines for psychotropic medication use, was a member of the NICE guidelines panel on mental health problems in people
with learning disability and edited with me, the Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry of Intellectual Disability, due to be published in January 2020. His work with diaspora organisations within the RCPsych, the struggle to gain equity of treatment outcomes
for patients from BAME communities and the campaign to target differential attainment among trainees from ethnically diverse backgrounds were some of his passionate causes.
The honours were many too. In 2005, he was the winner of the Hospital Doctor Award for Psychiatry Team of the Year, in 2006 he was awarded the OBE for services to medicine and in 2015, the Royal College of Psychiatrists gave him its highest honour, the Honorary Fellowship. Through all this, Sab remained his usual self deprecating self, never taking himself too seriously.
Through all this, his greatest attribute was that he remained a true fighter for his patients - a marginalized group of people with developmental disabilities and mental health difficulties who often had neither equity of access to healthcare nor equity of treatment outcomes. In his struggle to secure this equity, he was willing, sometimes at considerable personal cost, to speak out against the “anti intellectual pieties and facile compassion, all so triumphant in contemporary medicine,” that effectively disadvantaged patients from marginalized groups.
Sab Bhaumik died on 9 November 2019 at the age of 66, following a massive myocardial infarction. He is survived by his wife Sushmita and son Sugato. Sushmita, for long his anchor and arguably the only person who could possibly tell him no, found in the depths of her unexpected loss, the words that describe him best - “He had that magnetic quality to attract people- his honesty, sincerity , compassion and ability to rise above petty jealousies made him one of a kind. Like a comet he blazed into our lives touching everyone with love, laughter and hope – the world darkening as he left”.
Consultant Psychiatrist & Associate Dean (Advanced Learning), Royal College of Psychiatrists
Formerly Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Kanakaratnam worked at Fairfield Hospital/Weller Wing, Bedford Hospital as an Honorary Consultant, He passed away on 27 September 2019, aged 86 and a half.
Dr K, as he was fondly called at work (and Kanaks to many), was the son of an Ayurvedic medical practitioner and lecturer at the College of Indigenous Medicine in Colombo. His mother, Pauline studied at Cambridge University/ London School of Economics where she completed her degree. She also held a degree in English Literature.
Kanaks was educated at Royal College, Colombo, Sri Lanka and qualified as a medical graduate from the University of Ceylon, Colombo in 1960 and practised medicine and surgery in Galle and Jaffna.
He came to the UK in 1964 and joined Three Counties Hospital, which later became Fairfield Hospital in Bedfordshire. He was appointed Consultant Psychiatrist in 1971 at Fairfield and Bedford Hospitals (Weller Wing) where he worked for his entire life until retirement in 1999, and continued as an honorary consultant.
Kanaks was one of the most Senior Fellows of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the College in recognition of his long-standing membership and Fellowship held a minute’s silence at the opening of the Council meeting on 10/01/2020.
A towering figure
Kanaks was born in Sri Lanka but adopted as a loyal son of England where he spent almost his entire adult life. He was a towering figure in psychiatry for over half a century in Bedfordshire, having devoted all his working life to the people of this county.
At Fairfield Hospital, Kanaks worked in almost every adult specialty ranging from inpatient and community services to forensic and rehabilitation. At heart, he was a biological psychiatrist but never failed to recognise the benefits of psychotherapy and other models of treatment.
His eclectic approach to psychiatric formulations and treatments earned him the respect of not only his colleagues but also of wider medical community – physicians, surgeons and general practitioners.
His clinical and teaching achievements were considerable. He was the first Clinical Tutor for Beds & North Herts Mental Health Service appointed by The Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1972.
He was an enthusiastic teacher and clinical tutor for many years. Hailing from Royal College, Colombo, it was no surprise that his school motto, Disce Aut Discede (learn or depart) was at the forefront of his training sessions, but always delivered with great understanding and compassion.
He was instrumental in bringing to England many trainee doctors from Sri Lanka to train here. Many are now Consultant Psychiatrists spread over the country, while others remained at Fairfield Hospital/Bedford Hospital for their career.
He lectured at the Nursing School regularly for 15 years and was on the Bedfordshire Nurse Education Committee. He conducted training seminars for senior social workers in Bedfordshire.
He pioneered the development of many clinical services including the first Alcohol Misuse Service, the Rehabilitation Service and the Old People’s Mental Health Service in the region. In the 1960’s he organized and implemented a GP service Occupational Health Department at Fairfield Hospital for many hospital staff – both resident and non-resident.
He was an avid all-round cricketer, playing for Fairfield Hospital, but he will be remembered mainly as an active player of Letchworth Cricket Club where he was known as ‘Doc’.
He was frequently reported in the local newspaper for his excellent performances with bat and ball. He loved his garden, food and travelling far and wide. He was a man of immense charm and wit and a wonderful story teller.
All those who were fortunate to have been his trainees will testify to his humane and considerate nature as well as his excellent teaching skills.
His consultant and management colleagues will remember him, not only for his wide knowledge and wise counsel, but also for his tact and diplomacy when dealing with thorny issues.
Above all, his patients (and he would never call them clients) will always recall his patience, kindness, tolerance and exceptional clinical acumen.
Kanaks was not only revered as a clinician and teacher, but also much loved and admired as a humble and self-effacing man who did not know the meaning of the word ego, despite being an psychiatrist.
The large gathering of doctors (young and old), nurses, social workers, friends and relatives at the recent memorial event was testimony to the tremendous respect and esteem that he enjoyed throughout his life.
He was a clinician, a teacher, an administrator, a leader, a much-loved friend and colleague, but above all, he was a very decent and honourable human being. He did not abide by any religion to know right from wrong, but was principled with a very strong moral compass.
He leaves his devoted partner Dianne, his brother Viswam, his many beloved nephews and nieces around the world, as well as his dear friends and loyal colleagues.
It is only fitting to conclude with the words of Horace, the Roman Poet:
Non omnis moriar – I shall not die altogether.
Obituary by: Dianne Cobbold-Davis, Longstanding partner to Kanaks