Lives of the fellows

Gordon Lewis Mills

b.18 October 1929 d.20 February 1983
BSc Liverp(1953) MB ChB(1957) MRCS LRCP(1958) MRCPE(1964) MRCP(1967) FRCP(1978) FRCPE(1978)

Gordon Mills was head boy at the Grammar School in Machynlleth in Mid-Wales, an appointment which clearly presaged a distinguished career in medicine with particular emphasis on qualities of leadership in the care of the elderly. His father, William Gordon Mills, was a forestry worker.

After service as a nursing orderly in the RAMC during his national service, Mills entered Liverpool University, where he graduated BSc with honours in anatomy and subsequently MB ChB. He was student president of the Liverpool Medical Students Society and was made an honorary life member. A source of great recent satisfaction was his election to serve as honorary president of the same Society.

Subsequent phases in his postgraduate career included the usual house officer jobs and a spell in general practice, becoming subsequently a medical registrar. It was at this point that he developed the consuming interest in geriatric medicine which was to shape his future career. Senior registrarships in his chosen specialty at Manchester and Oxford then followed.

An opportunity to put this training into practice occurred in 1967 when Gordon Mills was appointed consultant physician in geriatric medicine at the Central Middlesex Group of Hospitals, London. This densely populated area had only a very thin provision of medical services to cater specifically for its elderly citizens. To build up an appropriate organization and ensure that it functioned properly was a great challenge. He met this challenge with notable success for seven years. In addition, some original observations on the aetiology and management of hypothermia, incontinence and anaemia in elderly persons gave a further creative flavour to the work of the unit.

After a brief stay in a rather more academic environment in Central London, Gordon Mills returned to Liverpool University in 1977 as a professor. He was appointed at a time of change. The proportion of persons aged 65 years in the UK was rising, and the proportion in central Liverpool rising even faster. The Medical School had expanded its intake of undergraduates. The resources of the University were already beginning to be curtailed.

Because of the way in which the chair was originally funded the professor of geriatric medicine continued to have a specific day-to-day responsibility for the functioning of the geriatric services for central and south Liverpool. In view of these background factors, the professor was a very busy man. During five years sojourn in the chair, Gordon Mills accomplished a great deal.

Within the University Faculty of Medicine, undergraduate teaching in geriatrics was improved and extended by Gordon Mills, so that it is now represented in each of the three clinical years of the undergraduate medical course. Particular emphasis was placed on both the community and hospital aspects of health and disease in the elderly.

Paralleling his strictly University commitments, Mills was active in postgraduate teaching. He was enthusiastic in lecturing to groups of general practitioners locally, throughout the UK and abroad, on various geriatric topics. Special symposia were arranged by him on topics such as ‘Incontinence of urine in the elderly’, and ‘Caring for mentally infirm old people’. Weekly seminars were also held by Mills for family doctors on problems related to the elderly, and various educational exercises were also staged for community nurses and health visitors. He was an examiner for the Health Visitors Diploma, and also a member of the management committee of the Liverpool Institute of Human Ageing.

On a national level, he served on the committee for geriatric medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of London. All this work was, of course, in addition to being himself an active clinical consultant.

Under Gordon Mill’s dynamic leadership the geriatricians of the Mersey region were welded into a cohesive body with a definite sense of purpose. This together with his enthusiasm for teaching his subject, made him an outstanding benefactor to the Mersey region’s ‘senior citizens’.

In 1956 he married Aileen, daughter of Gilbert William Brown, and they had five sons. They were a happy and devoted family, and Gordon listed ‘do-it-yourself as his major hobby.

DA Price Evans

[Brit.med.J., 1983, 280, 1450; Times, 4 Mar 1983]

(Volume VII, page 398)

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