Lives of the fellows

John Melville Malins

b.28 January 1915 d.6 August 1992
MB ChB Birm(1939) MRCP(1942) MD(1960) FRCP(1957)

John Malins was one of a group of outstanding physicians who put Birmingham on the medical map in post-war years. He had a strong medical background - his grandfather, Sir Edward Malins [Munk's Roll, Vol. IV, p.439] was an obstetrician - and a strong Midlands background. It was natural for him to enter medical school in the University of Birmingham after his schooling at Shrewsbury. After graduation he had a spell in general practice but in 1946 he was appointed assistant physician to the United Birmingham Hospitals, to work at the Birmingham General Hospital, and in 1955 he became physician.

At the General Hospital, he built up the largest diabetic clinic in the country. Despite its size he knew every patient well, their families and their circumstances, and they loved him. He was a superb general physician and a meticulous clinical observer, which resulted in some highly regarded publications, culminating in his book Clinical diabetes mellitus, London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1968.

In 1971 he was given a personal chair by the University of Birmingham and he served the medical school as tutor for admissions and subsequently as postgraduate dean. In the former role he selected students shrewdly, trying to identify those he felt would make caring doctors. As postgraduate dean he did much to enhance educational activities in district postgraduate centres, where he was a regular and popular visitor.

John Malins served the College as a councillor from 1973-76 and as Linacre Fellow from 1978-85. The thoughtfulness and wisdom he brought to assessment of training progammes was widely appreciated. He followed the College philosophy of ‘flexibility’ and was always ready to recommend accreditation for those who had trained in less orthodox ways but who were clearly sound and dedicated doctors.

In his youth Malins was an outstanding hockey player, representing Worcestershire and the Midlands both before and after the war years. He was also a fine gardener who delighted in his garden at Droitwich and, later, after retirement and second marriage to Penelope Hobhouse, at Tintinhull. Sadly, his first wife - Joanna - died after a long and disturbing illness during which John provided staunch and uncomplaining support. There were three sons and three daughters of the marriage.

Sir Raymond Hoffenberg

[Brit.med.J., 1992,305,1359;The Independent, 13 & 20 Aug 1992; The Times, 24 Oct 1992; Practical Diabetes, May/June,10,no.3,89; Living w.diabetes,June-July 1993,no.134]

(Volume IX, page 352)

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