Lives of the fellows

William Phillips

b.20 Dec 1907 d.22 Mar 1975
BSc Wales (1927) MB BCh (1930) MRCP (1933) MD (1934) FRCP (1948) Hon LLD Wales (1973)

William Phillips, senior clinical lecturer in the Welsh National School of Medicine, was a tireless worker for the cause of academic medicine in Wales. He was convinced that the University had a central part to play in the expanding scientific fields of medicine and he contributed very considerably to the development of the Welsh National School of Medicine, helping to define and weld services and academic needs. It gave him considerable pleasure, therefore, when the University of Wales conferred on him the honarary LLD in 1973.

Phillips was born in Cardiff, the son of an eminent professor of education in the University of Wales, and graduated from the Welsh National School of Medicine in 1927, proceeding MD in 1934. Many inviting opportunities lay before him in London but he remained loyal to Cardiff and Welsh medicine. At the early age of 26, he accepted an appointment on the staff of the Cardiff Royal Infirmary. He was the youngest man ever to be appointed to the consultant staff and became a senior physician at a very early age. He took his MRCP in 1933 and was elected a Fellow of the College in 1948.

The concept of the physician healing the whole man was perhaps the hallmark of his medicine. He was an inspiration to all who met him, encouraging the young and the newcomer, but intolerant of everything second-rate. He subscribed to the hard but simple dogma that the duty of a doctor and a scholar - and he was both - was work, that fruitful work depended on wide and accurate scholarship, and that its fruits must be published for the judgement of the world. He was largely responsible for establishing the Society of Physicians in Wales in 1950, realizing the influence such a body would have in promoting friendship among physicians in the region as well as providing a forum for scientific discussion and exchange of opinions.

He and his wife, Doreen, were extremely hospitable, and many students, and new doctors and their wives in the region, had cause to be grateful to them both for their understanding and encouragement. Doreen’s culinary expertise, and Bill’s knowledge and appreciation of wines, provided an example of gracious living at its very best. They had two daughters.

‘Billy Pink’, as he was known to his many friends, had an active, enquiring and critical mind, and when confronted with some esoteric medical phenomenon he seemed to have been reading the recent literature on the subject the night before. He was an exceptionally kind man, always ready to give practical help to anyone. A man of incredible energy, he was an excellent teacher and had wide cultural interests.

GW/VL

[Brit.med.J., 1975, 2, 92, 198; Lancet, 1975, 1, 873; Photo.]

(Volume VI, page 377)

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