Lives of the fellows

Frederick Basil Kiernander

b.29 January 1913 d.23 May 1982
MRCS LRCP(1936) MB BS Lond(1936) MRCP(1937) DMRE Cantab(1938) FRCP(1972)

Basil Kiernander (he never used his first name) was born in Hertfordshire. His father was a banker in India and his mother the daughter of an Ayrshire physician. After attending a preparatory school in Surrey he was educated at Epsom College. Towards the end of his schooldays his family financial circumstances deteriorated, and there was some doubt whether he could proceed to university. However, he won the Jenks memorial scholarship at St Thomas’s Hospital, qualifying there in 1936. He had a brilliant undergraduate record winning many prizes, spurred on by the home difficulties, and he then achieved the rare distinction of passing the MRCP examination at the first attempt at the very early age of twenty three, within one year of qualification.

After a house post and junior registrar post at St Thomas’s he became assistant radiotherapist at University College Hospital, and clinical assistant to the physical medicine department at the Royal Free Hospital and Arthur Stanley Institute in 1938, becoming consultant in physical medicine to the Radcliffe Infirmary in 1939.

His progress was thus meteoric and he continued the rest of his career in physical medicine and rheumatology. He joined the Royal Air Force in 1942 when he was put in charge of the physical medicine department at the Royal Air Force Central Medical Establishment. At the end of the war he resigned his previous appointments and was appointed to the staff of the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, as consultant in physical medicine.

His attitude towards disabled children was always practical and forward looking, and his constant aim was to minimize the effects of disability and to make the child as independent as possible both physically and emotionally. He always saw clinical problems from the viewpoint of the patient as a whole and not merely as an assortment of faulty limbs.

His expertise became recognized both at home and abroad and he was one of the few honorary members of both the British Orthopaedic Association and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He maintained his links with the Royal Air Force as their civilian consultant in physical medicine.

He never married and took great delight in providing comfort for his parents who lived to a considerable age. He divided his spare time and energy between the Royal Society of Medicine, the Cheshire Foundation, and keeping in touch with his past registrars in whose careers he took great interest. At the Royal Society of Medicine for over twenty years he was a member of one or other of their major policy making committees as well as being president of his own section and the open section. He travelled overseas to advise the Cheshire Foundation on the setting up and management of their homes abroad and took a close personal interest in the one near his home in Angmering.

Unfortunately, in the last ten years of his life he suffered from angina and although he continued in active practice until his death, his activities necessarily became more limited as time went on.

He was a kindly man and an attentive host with a large circle of friends extending far outside medicine. He made few enemies but unfortunately those he had were in powerful positions, and many colleagues thought that the interval between the MRCP in 1937 and his fellowship in 1972 was unduly prolonged.

EDR Campbell

[Daily Telegraph, 28 May 1982; Rheumatology and Rehab., 1982, 21, 185]

(Volume VII, page 321)

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