Lives of the fellows

Iforwyn Glyndwr Davies

b.11 June 1901 d.January 1984
MRCS LRCP(1923) MB BS Lond(1924) MRCP(1926) DPH(1930) MD(1944) FRCP(1954)

Ifor Davies, always known to friends and colleagues as TG’, was one of the most important yet least histrionic members of a group of medical officers of health who contributed much to the development of the NHS, yet had little recogniton for so doing. He was born at Porth in South Wales and had his early education there before going on to his medical school at Bart’s. After qualifying with a London MB and Conjoint in 1923-4 he held junior hospital posts in South Wales, and achieved the membership of the College in three years. He took the DPH and chose a career in public health, moving on from a series of junior posts to become Robert Parry’s (q.v.) deputy in Bristol before transferring to Leeds to succeed Johnstone Jervis, one of the great figures between the wars, as MOH and professor of public health. He thus bridged the period between the rapid development of local authority health departments, and their concern with personal health and hospital services, and the first 25 years of the NHS. Some MOH’s, and TG’ among the foremost, did more for the development of community services and effective linkage between them and specialist and primary care than did any other element in the NHS.

‘IG’ was a considerable epidemiologist in the period when control of communicable diseases was still a major problem. When he joined the Ministry of Health staff as a principal medical officer in the early 1960s one of his first assignments was coordination of the containment of smallpox when it was imported, on no less than six occasions, from the Indian subcontinent in 1961-62. However, his most notable contribution in Leeds was the development of support services for home care. Much of his writing concerned that kind of service, including linkage with industrial health services. He was a member of both a hospital management committee and the local executive council. He organized, in Leeds, one of the best aftercare services for the mentally ill and handicapped in the country. He was perhaps the best equipped of his contemporaries to bring practical field experience into these areas when the Ministry was so fortunate as to recruit him. He helped to prepare Enoch Powell’s health and welfare development plan of 1963 and the revision published by Kenneth Robinson, both of which had a seminal value too little recognized. He had become a Fellow in 1954 when there were few from the public health field, but he played little active part in the College.

‘IG’ was a quiet man, widely informed and a good negotiator. He became QHP and but for his slightly premature retirement would certainly have been further honoured. He was an invaluable ally and friend, and the kind of quiet, effective supporter for whom any chief medical officer must pray. He married Lilian James, from a background like his own, and they had one son who entered general practice. They were a very close family.

Sir George Godber

(Volume VIII, page 123)

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