Lives of the fellows

John Knox

b.6 December 1926 d.20 June 1987
MB ChB Glasg(1949) MRCP(1954) MRCPG(1972) FRCP(1974) FRCPG(1974)

John Knox, consultant physician to Raigmore Hospital Inverness and senior clinical lecturer in medicine in the University of Aberdeen, was born at Whitley Bay, the son of a civil servant. He was educated at Hamilton Academy and the University of Glasgow from which he graduated with commendation. He became successively a research fellow and then assistant lecturer in the department of materia medica and therapeutics in the University of Glasgow, and was also a medical registrar at Stobhill Hospital. In 1955 he moved to Aberdeen as senior medical registrar on the professorial unit. He was appointed consultant physician in geriatric medicine at Woodend Hospital, Aberdeen, in 1958 and some four years later moved to the North Regional Hospital Board as consultant physician at Inverness.

Having assumed the responsibilities of a general physician, John Knox was at pains to increase his knowledge of the developing specialties and devoted much time and travelling to do so. He frequently attended clinical meetings at teaching centres throughout the country and arranged for leading specialists to visit Inverness. On these occasions many enjoyed his company and hospitality, and observed his appreciation of good food and good wine.

Knox was a greatly respected member of the medical profession and a generous and loyal colleague. His main interest was in gastroenterology but he was an able and skilled general physician whose opinion inspired confidence. Always his care for patients extended beyond the immediate clinical problems to encompass their social and emotional circumstances - reflecting his great concern for those of his fellows less fortunate than himself. With him, service to his patients came first, ahead of his own interests, and as he practised so he taught.

John Knox retained close links with Aberdeen and the medical school there. He played an important role in bringing medical students to Inverness for instruction during their clinical years. He had a well earned reputation as an excellent teacher at the bedside, emphasizing always the basic approach and the importance of making a diagnosis on clinical grounds. He was a very fair undergraduate examiner, and if occasionally he asked an inappropriately awkward question he was quick to realize it and more often than not gave the answer himself. On the other hand, he regarded his role as examiner in the membership in a different light and his approach could be regarded as distinctly ‘hawkish’.

Despite his busy clinical commitment John was constantly involved in administration. He was at one time the deputy representative for the northern region to the Central Committee for Postgraduate Medical Education. He was secretary to the Highland Medical Society for seven years, and a member of the Hospital Medical Services Committee for more than a decade. In 1972 he was scientific secretary of the BMA’s first postgraduate meeting held in Inverness. He was a member of the working party which reported on the integration of general practice in the hospital service in Scotland. And, until shortly before his death, was chairman of the medicine sub-committee of the National Medical Consultative Council. He was also a member and past president of the Scottish Society of Physicians, at the meetings of which he was a regular attender.

John Knox’s abounding energy was also displayed in many activities outside his professional work. He was a County Scout Commissioner, an elder of the Church, and an active participant in BMA affairs.

Although gentle and unassuming, John Knox was a man of much determination who would never compromise if a principle was at stake, but ordinarily this trait lay hidden behind his charm and courtesy. With a family background in choral and instrumental music, he was an informed musician and in private an accomplished pianist. His first wife, Marion Aitken, a fellow graduate in medicine at Glasgow, died in 1984. In 1987 he married Fiona MacLennan, a consultant anaesthetist in Aberdeen. She survived him, as did two sons of his first marriage.

RL Himsworth

[Brit.med.J., 1987,295,278]

(Volume VIII, page 264)

<< Back to List