Lives of the fellows

Idris Griffiths Jones

b.27 April 1905 d.10 July 1976
BSc Wales(1926) MRCS LRCP(1930) MB BS Lond(1932) MRCP(1934) MD(1935) FRCP(1968)

Although born in Birmingham, Idris Jones’s family moved to Llanelli, South Wales, when he was six months old and he always considered himself a native of Llanelli, a town for which he maintained a very great affection all his life. His father, E Denbigh Jones, was the headmaster of Llanelli Grammar School and was held in great esteem locally.

Idris Jones attended Llanelli Grammar School before starting his medical career at University College, Cardiff, in 1924, where he obtained the BSc (Wales) in 1926. His clinical studies were at University College Hospital, London, where, after a long illness, he qualified MRCS in 1930 and in the same year obtained the BMA essay prize.

In 1930 he was house physician at Hampstead General Hospital, London, and then house surgeon at the ENT Hospital, London, following which he became RMO at Chester Hospital. In 1935 he was appointed RMO to the Royal Infirmary, Cardiff, then the main teaching hospital of the Welsh National School of Medicine, a post with considerable clinical and teaching responsibility.

Although in 1938 he became assistant registrar at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, London, he returned to Cardiff in 1939, when he was appointed honorary assistant physician to the Royal Infirmary, Cardiff, and clinical teacher to the Welsh National School of Medicine.

For eight years he was also senior assistant on the medical unit under AM Kennedy. With the inception of the National Health Service in 1948 he became consultant physician to the United Cardiff Hospitals and to the Welsh Regional Hospital Board. He was consultant physician to the Ministry of Pensions and a member of the Appeals Tribunal of the Department of Health and Social Security. A general physician, he took a special interest in rheumatology.

For many years he was internal examiner to the Welsh National School of Medicine and an examiner to the General Nursing Council.

He was chairman of the medical board of the United Cardiff Hospitals from 1966 to 1968. At this time the new medical and dental teaching centres were being established on the 53 acre site at Heath Park, Cardiff. The Dental School and Hospital were completed in 1965 and officially opened in 1966; the Medical School buildings opened in 1971. Idris Jones helped very considerably in ironing out difficulties in the initial working of the Dental Hospital. His help was much appreciated by the Dental Hospital authorities.

He also played a very helpful and constructive part in the development of the Medical School in the new buildings at the Heath. His calm and unruffled temperament, his friendliness, his sincerity, his tactfulness and his wise counsel made him an admirable chairman. In addition he was always easily approachable; his willingness to help his colleagues at all times made him an exceptionally delightful colleague to work with.

At St Winifrede’s Hospital, Cardiff, where he looked after his private patients, the nuns affectionately nicknamed him ‘Nicodemus’ (the wise and learned man, the kindly man, the generous man, the man who sought the truth, who spoke up against unfairness and the man who walked by night). This really summed up his character admirably. That he walked by night was because of his conscientiousness in his teaching and hospital work, and in a considerable private practice at his consulting rooms, which meant that at St Winifrede’s Hospital he often visited his patients at night.

He married in 1943, Vera Harris, who had qualified medically at Cardiff two years previously. Idris and Vera Jones had one daughter, Celia Rhonwen, who entered the legal profession and married an accountant. Idris Jones died suddenly and peacefully at his home in Cardiff.

DA Williams

[Brit.med.J., 1976, 2, 1077]

(Volume VII, page 306)

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