Lives of the fellows

Patrick Bernard Llewellyn Muldoon

b.30 January 1918 d.3 August 1989
MB BCh BAO NUI(1940) MRCP(1946) MD(1947) FRCP(1969)

‘Paddy’ Muldoon was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, where his father Michael Patrick Muldoon was a general practitioner. The family later returned to a country practice in Ireland and when Paddy was only five years old his father was killed - a victim of a sectarian shooting. A trust fund was set up to provide for Paddy’s education and that of his sister and two brothers. Paddy was sent to the Salesian School at Farnborough, Hampshire, and went on to the Salesian College in Battersea, London. Subsequently he returned to Ireland to study medicine at the National University of Ireland and St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin. He soon found himself responsible for the affairs of the whole family, owing to the protracted ill health of his mother.

After graduation he was appointed house physician and later RMO at St Vincent’s. In 1941 he joined the RAMC and became a graded specialist in medicine, serving in North Africa, Italy and Austria. He was officer in charge of the medical division of 31 British General Hospital, being promoted to lieutenant colonel and also mentioned in despatches in 1944 while serving in Italy.

Paddy obtained his membership of the College in 1946, followed a year later by his MD (NUI). That same year he was appointed consultant physician to the City General Hospital, Stoke on Trent, where he was joined by three ex-Army friends, one of whom had previously worked at the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary in the same town. At that time the City General, then a Poor Law institution and municipal hospital, was expanding in preparation for the NHS and the only qualified permanent staff at the hospital consisted of the medical superintendent who was a general surgeon and his deputy, who was doubly qualified as a surgeon and obstetrician. There were no outpatients, no pathology laboratory, and radiology facilities were primitive.

Together with his three friends - a surgeon, an anaesthetist and a pathologist - Paddy set about establishing the large and prestigious unit which exists today. The size of the task was immense, reflected in his reply to a question in a much later TV interview, when he was asked if his Army experience had been of use to him in his current situation; without hesitation he replied that it had been of great value in that the Army had taught him the art of occupying buildings, often unsuitable, and adapting them for medical services. He also familiarized himself with the working conditions and environment of the local populace, visiting coal mines, engineering works and ‘pot banks’.

Previously there has been little or no professional contact between the North Staffs Royal Infirmary and the City General despite their proximity, the greater part of the acute work being dealt with at the North Staffs. Now, however, collaboration between physicians was established and by 1952 this had reached a point where it was possible to exchange beds and to make all medical appointments common to both hospitals. This enlightened attitude gradually spread to other specialties, enabling a totally integrated medical service to cover North Staffordshire, sharing facilities such as a central outpatient polyclinic and day hospital, and a central pathology laboratory.

Paddy strove constantly to apply those innovations in clinical practice which appeared in the medical press and this, coupled with his own broad clinical experience, made him a popular chief with the junior residents. He remained active and dedicated to his clinical practice to the end and his commitment to the literature never dwindled; spending time with him as part of the Stoke on Trent medical registrar rotation was an invaluable aid to success in the membership examination of the College.

Paddy Muldoon’s interest remained in general medicine, although his opinion was sought locally in the field of tropical diseases. He was an extraordinarily kind man - to his patients, his friends and, not least, to his junior colleagues and nursing staff in whom he took a close interest. His understanding of human problems raised the level of his medical practice above that of mere investigation and standard treatment.

He was an immaculate dresser, sporting a floral buttonhole in all seasons and with a kindly greeting for all. He was highly articulate, with an acute mind and a wide knowledge of the world. He never seemed to forget anything and had an obsession for carefully filing away every piece of paper that came his way, but this in no way made him pedantic or dull for he had a ready and delightful wit. At his happiest with patients, he also enjoyed himself skiing and pottering about m boats. Paddy married twice. First to Kathleen Margaret Nicholls in 1945, which ended in divorce in 1966, and then to Diana Aynsley, widow of John Aynsley, a potter. He had no children by either marriage.

C H J Swan

[Brit.med.J., 1993,307,197]

(Volume IX, page 381)

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