Lives of the fellows

Isaac Ansell

b.21 October 1916 d.20 October 1993
MRCS LRCP(1940) MB ChB Liverp(1940) MRCP(1944) MD(1945) FRCP(1977)

Isaac Ansell died on the day before his 77th birthday. He was well known in Liverpool medicine for over half a century and, together with his brother George, contributed greatly to the richness of the city's medical scene. Isaac, the elder brother, was born and bred in Liverpool. He was educated at Liverpool Collegiate School and Liverpool University medical school, where he found surgery to his liking. At Liverpool Royal Infirmary he held junior posts under Henry Cohen, later Lord Cohen of Birkenhed [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.106], and Robert Coope [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.114] from whom he learned ‘the Quiet Art’. His pre-registration year was interrupted by fire duty during the ‘blitz’ and other air raids but he flourished, obtaining his membership of the College and also his doctorate. At an early age he obtained consultant sessions at the Liverpool Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest and subsequently joined the RAMC as a medical specialist, serving in India and the Far East. After the war he returned to the UK and studied at the Brompton Chest Hospital, where he met and married his wife Betty née Rogansky. They had three children; a son and two daughters.

Seeking additional sessions in Liverpool, he was soon appointed a general physician to Fazakerley and Aintree Hospitals, as well as to the Liverpool Clinic. He worked in Liverpool for the rest of his professional career, transferring from the Clinic to the Royal Liverpool Hospital in 1978.

Isaac was unassuming and retiring, almost to a fault. He was gentle and self-effacing and he kept up to date with general medical advances by extensive reading. At the Turner Memorial Home, in the Dingle District of the city, he had a large collection of elderly patients with Parkinsonism who responded dramatically to L-Dopa therapy when the drug was first introduced. In collaboration with the obstetricians, he set up one of the earliest joint clinics for the medical disorders of pregnancy at Fazakerley Hospital. He was past president of the Liverpool Jewish Medical Society and an honorary physician to the Jewish Stapeley Hospital, where he pioneered and inaugurated the medical wing. For some 15 years he was physician to the Post Office and to the Civil Service Sanatorium Society in the north west.

Isaac had a large domiciliary practice extending into north Wales, which he visited by means of a series of immaculate Rover cars on the front seat of which was a pathology kit, on the rear seat an ECG machine and in the boot a portable x-ray apparatus. He would visit at any time of the day or night; Betty and his family only knew when Isaac was coming home when the front door opened. He was also a gifted teacher, with encyclopaedic knowledge, whose unhurried and thorough approach endeared him to patients and their relatives, many of whom were doctors themselves. He was held in great respect by all, especially on account of his integrity.

After retirement, Isaac took on locum work in the region until cerebrovascular disease impaired his mobility but not his mind. He was a loyal attender at the Liverpool Medical Institution, usually accompanied by his brother George. His wife and family survived him; his son Eric is a general practitioner in London.

C C Evans

[Brit.med.J., 1994,308,54]

(Volume IX, page 17)

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