Lives of the fellows

John Rossford Edge

b.11 November 1920 d.26 April 1994
MB ChB Leeds(1943) MD(1945) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1973)

John Edge was a chest physician in Cumbria who began his career treating tuberculosis and later became involved in the treatment of asbestosis and industrial diseases associated with the shipyards. He was born in Newquay, Cornwall, but moved north to study medicine in Leeds where he qualified with honours in 1943 and rapidly proceeded to complete his MD in 1945. Further academic work was interrupted by a period with the RAMC when he served as a senior medical officer to HM Troopships.

John returned to civilian status in 1948 by taking up the post of medical registrar in Leeds, before transferring to work for Guy Scadding at the Brompton Hospital. He continued his training in thoracic medicine with posts as a senior registrar at Edgware General Hospital and Harrow Chest Clinic, as a clinical assistant to Neville Oswald at the Brompton, and finally two posts as a senior assistant medical officer for the Red Cross Sanatoria of Scotland. During this time his interest in tuberculosis was confirmed. The high prevalence of tuberculosis among Scottish fishermen had led to the establishment of mass miniature radiography in Aberdeen in 1942, a fact which was to make a lasting impression on his work.

John Edge moved to Cumbria in 1953, where he held the post of consultant physician in general and thoracic medicine at Furness General Hospital in Barrow-in-Furness until his retirement in 1985. Upon arrival tuberculosis was a major local problem and John was responsible for the supervision and treatment of patients at High Carley Sanatorium, situated just outside Ulverston. This hospital serviced a population as distant as Preston and Blackburn with an active thoracic surgical service to complement the medical department.

With the introduction of effective chemotherapy, tuberculosis became a receding medical disease by 1960. John turned his attention to the newly emerging local epidemic of asbestos-related diseases connected with the local shipyards at Barrow. In conjunction with a long-standing radiological colleague he produced valuable clinical research papers on the radiology of asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma and the incidence of lung cancer in shipyard workers.

John was deeply committed to teaching and was instrumental in the introduction of formal training schemes for general practitioners in the locality. He held the position of postgraduate clinical tutor for eleven years, during which time he helped develop a dedicated postgraduate centre within the newly-built Furness General Hospital. Despite such a demanding schedule, John was able to complete one text book, Lectures in chest medicine, London, Staples Press, 1970, and contribute to another, Essential clinical medicine, edited by Salter, published in Bristol by John Wright, 1984.

Following his retirement, John continued a busy medico-legal practice and undertook a six-month locum in the Solomon Islands.

Outside medicine he enjoyed to the full the advantages of living in Furness, with its access to the sea and the fells. He was a keen yachtsman and inveterate traveller. He married twice, the second time to Brigid in 1963 and he had two sons. Even after the diagnosis of his final illness, gastric cancer, John and his wife completed trips to the Galapagos Islands, Norwegian fjords and to Eastern Europe.

A R Luksza

(Volume X, page 125)

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