Lives of the fellows

Edward Gregson Grant Rhind

b.3 May 1912 d.1 February 1986
MB ChB Aberd(1935) MRCP(1939) FRCP(1964)

Edward Rhind was born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, and died in Sheffield where he had spent the greater part of his professional life. His father John Rhind, had a business concerned with the distribution and marketing of beef, one of the products for which the north east of Scotland is rightly famous. On his father’s side, his grandfather had been employed by the now amalgamated Union Bank of Scotland, and his maternal grandfather, James Sellar Leith, was also an official in one of the numerous small Scottish banks which were represented in every substantial town throughout the country.

Edward Rhind was educated in the Gordon Schools, Huntly, and following the well established local pattern went to Aberdeen University for his medical education, where he graduated with honours in 1935. As an undergraduate his clinical instruction was therefore within the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and other hospitals in the city. With his distinguished undergraduate career, he was a natural choice to become Sir Stanley Davidson’s [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.136] house physician in the professorial department of medicine. He then came south to Sheffield, where his cousin already worked in general practice, and completed his surgical house officer training in the Royal Infirmary. Thereafter he returned to clinical medicine, becoming medical first assistant to Robert Platt, later Lord Platt [Munk’s Roll, Vol. VII, p.470] and Gurney Yates [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.627]. The outbreak of war intervened and Edward Rhind served in the RAMC for a period of over four years, mostly in India; he was graded as a medical specialist and became officer in charge of the medical division in a military hospital with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Soon after his demobilization and return to Sheffield he was appointed physician to the Municipal Hospital, the city general hospital of Sheffield. So he became one of the consultants already in post when the National Health Service was founded, and was able to observe the impact of the new approach to medical care in a scene where the changes which resulted were undoubtedly at their greatest.

Only those who served through the early years of the NHS will find it credible that Edward Rhind was expected to look after both acute medical and many long stay geriatric patients in his own hospital, as well as performing outpatient clinics and responsible for other scattered groups of beds - some of them as far away as Bakewell, in Derbyshire. A staggering workload included responsibility for no fewer than 360 inpatients at that time. However, as the service evolved, his energies became concentrated in the City General Hospital, to which he was devoted, seeing it grow from its original role as a municipal hospital with very limited staff and resources into its present role as the second major teaching hospital within the Sheffield medical school, and now called the Northern General Hospital. In this transition Rhind was a key figure to whom the University could look for help at every turn.

Edward Rhind’s manner was always quiet and unassuming but he invariably commanded immediate respect from patients, students and colleagues alike and his own high standards of behaviour in clinical practice brought out the best response from all associated with him. His character was outstandingly friendly and unselfish and these qualities,coupled with his professional skills and enthusiasm, made him a man in whom great trust was placed at all times. His personal qualities were perfect for the dual role of physician and teacher; at the same time, his warmth and friendliness allowed everyone to address him as ‘Eddie’ without any lessening of his authority.

His special interest in neurology led him to the chairmanship of the Sheffield branch of the British Epilepsy Association, and his concern for students to the responsibility for running the clinical committee of the faculty of medicine. He was also a loyal servant to the College, obtaining his membership in 1939 and his fellowship in 1964. He was the first College representative for the Sheffield region, a choice which recognized his ability to establish the important links between the College and the wider profession, particularly in relation to postgraduate training.

Edward Rhind had many interests outside medicine, most of which had become part of his life as he grew up in Aberdeenshire. It may be a surprise to learn that cricket is commonly played in the north east of Scotland and as a student he was both captain of the University XI as well as playing for his home team. He had a lifelong interest in shooting and salmon fishing, both of which he continued almost to the end of his life.

Rhind was twice married. His first wife, Mary Barker, a medical graduate of Sheffield, bore him three children, Anne, Margaret and John. She died in 1960. Five years later he married Kathleen McCombie, also a doctor and graduate of Aberdeen, who survived him.

After retirement, Edward Rhind found another special role in which he could help his hospital, by accepting the chairmanship of an outstandingly successful centenary appeal for the Northern General Hospital, which funded an important intensive care unit for neonates. In this post retirement work he found great satisfaction, as it allowed him to continue his association with the hospital in which he did so much of his life’s work.

DS Munro

[Brit.med.J., 1986,293,1035]

(Volume VIII, page 409)

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