Lives of the fellows

Lawrence Nagley

b.20 January 1911 d.8 May 1992
MB ChB Leeds(1934) MD(1937) MRCP(1942) FRCP(1970)

Lawrence Nagley was a true pioneer of geriatric medicine in Birmingham. At the start of the NHS in 1948, Nagley was the first consultant physician in geriatric medicine to be appointed by the Birmingham regional hospital board - the predecessor of the West Midlands regional health authority. Initially appointed to Western Road Infirmary as RMO in 1939 he was to see it metamorphose into Summerfield Hospital and later into the Dudley Road Hospital Department of Geriatric Medicine.

Lawrence Nagley was born in Goole, Yorkshire, the son of a woollen merchant and his wife, Minnie Poyser, whose father was a jeweller. Lawrence was educated at Pannel Ash College, Harrogate, and Leeds University, graduating in 1934. Afer house appointments at the Staffordshire General Infirmary he joined the junior staff of Dudley Road Hospital and in 1937 was asked to fill a temporary vacancy at the associated Western Road Infirmary. He continued to serve this hospital for over 40 years, even continuing in a locum capacity after formal retirement.

He was to see the care of the chronic sick develop into the active rehabilitation orientated service for the elderly of today. Recalling that he initially shared the care of 1,350 mostly bed-fast patients with one other doctor, Lawrence Nagley was to claim that he had spent more years looking after more sick old people in a greater concentration than any other physician.

Impressed by the work of Marjorie Warren at the West Middlesex Hospital, and Bluestone at the New York Montefiore Hospital, Nagley began a domiciliary visiting service in an attempt to rationalize the admission criteria and reduce the waiting list. He cooperated with Sir Arthur Thomson [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.575] and Tom McKeown [Munk's Roll, Vol.VIII, p.311] in their report on ‘Care of the Ageing and Chronic Sick’ which was published in 1951. An able chairman, Lawrence Nagley served the West Midlands Institute of Geriatric Medicine as chairman of council for 12 years, having been the treasurer since its foundation in 1971. He became well known to all who attended the various symposia and was always firmly in control of the proceedings.

As well as being honorary consultant to the Birmingham General Hospital, Nagley was one of the first group of consultant geriatricians to be given honorary senior clinical lecturer status when formal teaching of geriatrics began in the Birmingham medical school. He was an excellent teacher and his ideas were always well ordered. His love of literature was shown by the apt quotations he used to illustrate his theme.

In all his activities Lawrence Nagley was supported by his devoted wife Kathleen, née Richards, whom he had married in 1937. Their home and garden at Kinver were a great joy to him. He had a genial and ever courteous manner and made a long and distinguished contribution to the care of the elderly in the West Midlands.

O H D Portsmouth

[Brit.med.J., 1992,305,708]

(Volume IX, page 383)

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