Lives of the fellows

Thomas Anderson Ramsay

b.9 February 1920 d.22 May 1998
BSc Glasg(1940) MB ChB(1943) FRCS Glag(1962) FFCM(1974) MRCP(1978) FRCP(1983)

Tom Ramsay had a long and distinguished career in hospital administration and post-graduate education. He was born in Greenock and educated in Glasgow, the son of a teacher and artist, a non-medical family. He qualified in 1943 with a prize in clinical medicine and with first class certificates of merit in obstetrics and ENT. During the next 14 years he gained extensive clinical experience, both in general practice and hospital medicine, the latter mainly in paediatrics and orthopaedics. He also fitted in two years as a surgeon-lieutenant with the RNVR.

In 1957 he decided to move into hospital administration and obtained the post of assistant senior medical officer with the Northern Ireland Health Authority. While there he was promoted to deputy senior medical officer and shortly afterwards was appointed deputy senior administrative medical officer to the North Eastern Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board.

In 1964 he was promoted to the post of senior administrative medical officer. During this period he was also a visiting professor of health services administration at the London School of Hygiene and a governor of the London Hospital.

In 1972 he decided to renew his links with Scotland and clinical medicine and obtained a post with Aberdeen University as post-graduate dean and professor of post-graduate medicine.

After four years in Scotland he was persuaded to return both to England and to hospital administration and was appointed regional medical officer for the West Midlands Regional Health Authority. His predecessor in the post had held the appointment for an extremely long time and had strongly marked it with his personality. Tom realized a change of regional medical officer would upset many established patterns, so he settled down quietly and persistently to alter things. His solid, cheerful and unthreatening personality enabled him to do this with a minimum of friction.

Despite the work involved Tom managed to satisfy his educational bent by undertaking substantial teaching at all the local universities. In recognizing this Aston University made him a visiting professor, Warwick an honorary professor and Birmingham a senior lecturer.

After four years the call of the educational side became too strong and he resigned from the regional health authority and took up the newly created post of professor of post-graduate medical education with Warwick University, a post which was combined with the Birmingham University post of area director for Coventry and Warwickshire.

Tom worked hard and successfully at establishing and building an active post-graduate medical education department in an area where tension between the various hospitals, health authorities, universities and consultants had previously bedevilled earlier efforts.

After three years Tom felt that the main work had been brought to a satisfactory level and at the age of 63 he decided to retire and move nearer to his birthplace, Scotland. However, in the interests of maintaining links with the south, he moved at first only as far as Penrith.

Despite his heavy work responsibilities, Tom published papers on hospital administration, post-graduate medical education and community medicine.

Tom was a tall spare man of commanding presence with a marked Scottish accent. His strong base in clinical medicine and his extensive experience in both academic and administrative medicine gave his quietly and firmly voiced opinions immense weight. In addition he had a ready smile and a knack of getting conflicting parties to first compromise and then to work together amicably. He was the very model of a Scottish administrator.

He married Margaret Donald, the daughter of a doctor, in 1949 and their long and happy marriage produced a son and two daughters.

A McGregor

(Volume XI, page 470)

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