Lives of the fellows

John Patteson Hughes

b.27 March 1925 d.23 May 1996
MB BS Lond(1952) MRCP(1956) FRCP(1973)

John Patteson Hughes was for many years a consultant physician at the Ipswich and East Suffolk Hospitals. Ipswich owes much to him for breaking ranks with his senior registrar colleagues unwilling to leave the teaching hospital honeypots and for becoming a tireless advocate of the advantages of so doing. He was born in Hove, Sussex, and educated at the King’s School, Ely. He served in the Second World War as a combatant in the RNVR and as an officer in a landing craft was involved in the D-Day landings.

After the war he studied medicine at the London Hospital. J P H often spoke of the excellent clinical teaching he had had. He talked especially warmly of Archibald Clark-Kennedy [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.88], who was later dean, and of William Evans [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.146] - quoting his dictum that a patient should never feel worse for seeing a doctor even if given a bad prognosis.

He went to the Ipswich and East Suffolk Hospitals in 1958 as senior registrar in the department of medicine.

J P H was a first class clinician and teacher. His juniors soon learnt not to skimp a medical history or physical examination and woe betide those who did. As a student he apparently acquired the nickname of ‘class’ for some reason now lost in the mists of time. However, it fits well with the very high standards he expected of himself and those doctors and nurses who worked with him. He was a stickler in the best sense of the word, never late for ward rounds or out-patient clinics, and insistent on good manners and professional behaviour from all staff in their dealings with patients.

Many young doctors and nurses will remember J P H for his bedside and seminar teaching. He regarded this as a pleasurable duty inseparable from the honour of his appointment. He did not expect to be paid extra for it, and strongly disapproved of colleagues who did, as well as those doctors who were not prepared to attend medical meetings unless bribed with a free lunch to do so. Latterly, he was appalled by the steady erosion of his profession’s integrity as a result of financial enticements from the pharmaceutical industry, or tempting offers of power, albeit illusory, from NHS managers and administrators.

An outstanding contribution that John made to the Ipswich Hospitals was to set up a radio-isotope laboratory attached to the radiotherapy department. For a nonteaching hospital this was an unusually early development and the isotope laboratory which John supervized was a tremendous asset to his colleagues and their patients.

He was appointed as a regional adviser to the College and put in a great deal of hard work representing his colleagues in Ipswich and all of East Anglia.

John particularly enjoyed fast motor cars, good company and the gamesmanship and banter common among golfers. His wife June (née Dickson), whom he married in 1956, was a consultant in electro-encephalography. They had three children. He died of complications of atherosclerosis effecting his leg arteries and aorta.

J W Paulley

(Volume X, page 241)

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