Lives of the fellows

Ronald William McConnachie

b.24 May 1914 d.5 June 1991
MB ChB Aber(1946) DPH(1950) DIH(1952) MRCPE(1960) FRCPE(1982) FRCP(1986)

Ronnie McConnachie, the son of a postman, was born and schooled in Huntley, Aberdeenshire. After qualifying at Aberdeen University, with a distinction in surgery, he joined the RAF as a squadron leader serving from 1947-50. He was in Berlin during the airlift. After demobilization and a short spell in industrial medicine, he embarked on a career in general medicine - with geriatrics and neurology. After junior posts m London and Manchester, where he met and married Margaret Langan, a theatre sister, he was appointed a senior registrar in geriatrics at the Withington Hospital, Manchester for just over a year, until his first consultant appointment in geriatrics at Blackburn. There he reorganized his unit on modern lines, introducing progressive patient care and opening two day hospitals.

After spending three years at Blackburn, he moved on to Chesterfield in 1965. Blackburn’s loss was undoubtedly Chesterfield’s gain; he rapidly reorganized the geriatric service with the same flair and drive he had shown throughout his career. His persistence, innovation and dedication resulted in the opening, in 1972, of a day hospital and a 90-bed rehabilitation unit at Walton Hospital. He gave up geriatrics in 1978 and concentrated on developing facilities for coronary care and diabetes. He pioneered the use of diabetic liaison nurses and was the driving force behind successful public appeals for a CT scanner and laser equipment for diabetic retinopathy. He later took an increasing interest in management. He was chairman of the medical advisory committee 1977-80; a member of the district management team from 1980-83, the last year as chairman; chairman of the planning team of services for the elderly, of the VTS committee and of the drugs and therapeutic committee. He was an active member of NDHA from 1983 until its reorganization in 1990 and was the authority’s vice-chairman for its last two years. He fought fierce battles on behalf of his patients and colleagues with total integrity and without malice. He had relinquished his sessions in diabetes in 1988 and taken on a new challenge, that of clinical audit, at a time when most of us would be looking towards retirement. He introduced a new system of audit which has become the accepted standard for many programmes in the UK and he was in great demand as a speaker throughout the country, especially after his retirement from clinical work in 1990.

Ronnie McConnachie was an outstanding clinician whose opinion was widely sought. He was a great support to his junior, general practitioner and consultant colleagues, and a loyal and generous mentor and friend. His impish sense of humour was sometimes masked by the brusqueness of an irascible Scot but the scowl under the wild red locks was always rapidly replaced by a broad grin.

Ronnie took an enormous pleasure in his family. He lived in a large, beautiful - if somewhat dilapidated - house in an attractive Derbyshire village on the edge of the Peak District. He contributed greatly to village life and was surrounded at home by animals and his children, Lindy, Glen and Ian. He took great delight in Ian’s achievements as a Grand Prix motor cycle racer and often acted as his manager at races throughout Europe. Eighteen months before his death he underwent major abdominal surgery but was working within a few weeks. Typically, he was at work the day before he died.

M Grundman


(Volume IX, page 330)

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