Lives of the fellows

Ian Severn Bailey

b.15 December 1928 d.31 May 1997
BSc Manch(1949) MBChB(1952) MRCP(1954) MD(1961) FRCP(1971)

Ian Bailey was a general physician with an interest in gastroenterology at Southmead Hospital, Bristol. He will be remembered by his colleagues as a forthright, cheerful, energetic person with many enthusiasms which he loved to share. Among these was his religious commitment. He was a lifelong Quaker (member of the Religious Society of Friends) and an elder at Frenchay Meeting but he was interested in other religions.

He was born in Clitheroe, Lancashire, and educated at a Quaker boarding school in Yorkshire (Ackworth). At medical school in Manchester he was a star pupil. Taking time to do a BSc in physiology, he graduated with first class honours and, in the clinical course, he won a prize or distinction in no less than five subjects. In 1952 he gained his MB ChB with honours. After two years of house officer posts at the Manchester Royal Infirmary - one of them under Lord Platt [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.470] - he had the MRCP after his name as well. Compulsory military service meant two less productive years in the RAMC - spent at the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich, London - and then came a medical registrar post at University College Hospital and the Whittington Hospital, London. This involved working for Lord Rosenheim [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.394] for two years, and - in 1958 - getting married to an old school friend, Winifred Sibson, who was to be a great support throughout his life.

Ian's medical interests were still general and, to get an MD thesis, he opted to do research on glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Remarkably, he managed to do this and get his higher degree in only two years while working as a senior registrar at the Manchester Royal Infirmary from 1959 to 1963. The physicians he worked with there included William Brockbank [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.51] and Henry Howat, a prominent figure in British gastroenterology, and from now on this specialty was to be Ian’s too, within general medicine.

The reward for his labours came in 1963 when he was appointed consultant physician to Southmead Hospital, Bristol. At that time, and for many years to come, the physicians at Southmead prided themselves on being generalists first and specialists second, but this did not stop Ian from being innovative in gastroenterology. In 1970 he was the first person in the south-west to obtain a gastrocamera. He was invited to the Bristol Royal Infirmary to show off his precious acquisition to Alan Read [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IX, p.440] and his team - an event which may have sown a seed for the phenomenal development of GI endoscopy which ensued soon after in the University’s department of medicine.

Despite a very busy NHS and private practice, Ian Bailey played a full part in hospital management, being successively chairman of the medical staff committee, consultant member of the district management team, chairman of the division of medicine and consultant member of the District Health Authority. In the 1980s he sat on regional committees and became chairman of the sub-committee on training in medical specialties. He became particularly prominent locally as regional adviser of the Royal College of Physicians, a post which he filled with his customary gusto from 1983 to 1985. He then put himself up for election to the council of the RCP and his success in this national competition bears tribute to the esteem in which he was held. The post was no sinecure for he soon found himself acting as secretary to the College’s working party on the supply of donor organs for transplantation.

Ian loved teaching and he helped the Bristol medical students to found their own academic society, the Bristol Medical Group, an organization which concentrates on ethical issues in medicine. He was also active in postgraduate education, giving lectures on such topics as attitudes to ageing, the management of stroke and the evils of alcohol. He served as secretary and then chairman of the British Medico-Chirurgical Society.

In his later years Ian expanded his interest in the history of medicine, especially the life and work of Edward Jenner. He was chairman of the Jenner Educational Trust for almost ten years and also chairman of the Jenner Museum Management Committee which looks after Jenner’s old home in Berkeley, Gloucestershire and the attached educational centre. The history of vaccination became the focus of Ian’s formidable energy after he retired, especially as the bicentenary of Jenner’s first ‘clinical trial’ of cowpox vaccine approached in 1996, and this led him to travel extensively in his last few years, attending conferences and giving lectures. He also acted as medical adviser to the Western Provident Association and continued to enjoy hill-walking from the family cottage in the Lake District, a place where many friends enjoyed his and Winifred’s generous hospitality. Some colleagues were amazed at the pace of his life, but he was never one to withdraw from the mainstream and potter around at home.

Ian Bailey was a man of compassion, wisdom, humour and extraordinary energy who radiated enjoyment and enthusiasm over a wide range of activities. His penetrating, enquiring mind, together with a fine memory and plentiful commonsense, made him an outstanding physician.

He died in Southmead Hospital, the hospital where he had worked as a general physician, of complications following a myocardial infarction.

K W Heaton

[Brit.med.J., 1997,315,684]

(Volume X, page 17)

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