Lives of the fellows

James Alexander Scott

b.3 July 1931 d.7 May 1997
CBE(1986) BA Dubl(1953) MB BCh BAO(1955) MA MD(1965) FFCM(1974) Hon LLD Sheffield(1983) MRCP(1984) FRCP(1985)

James (‘Jim’) Alexander Scott will be remembered primarily as the regional medical officer for the Trent Regional Health Authority from 1973 to 1988. However, behind this, was his outstanding contribution to health care and medical education, especially in the area now designated as the East Midlands. He played a big part in establishing two new medical schools at the Universities of Nottingham and Leicester and in the expansion of the long established medical school of the University of Sheffield. While he was in office there were great strides in the provision of health and hospital services in the whole of the Trent Region.

Jim Scott was born into a medical family in Kingston-upon-Hull and received his secondary education at Doncaster Grammar School. He went on to Trinity College, Dublin, for his medical education, where he had a successful undergraduate career, gaining several prizes and university colours for swimming. He qualified in 1955. He then held house officer posts in Doncaster and York. Further experience followed as pathologist in Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital, Dublin, from 1957 to 1959. He was then registrar in chemical pathology to the United Sheffield Hospitals. During this time he wrote his doctoral thesis on melanin in urine in patients with malignant melanomas and was awarded his MD in 1965.

In 1961 Jim Scott became a trainee medical officer with the Sheffield Regional Hospital Board. He progressed to become assistant and then principal assistant medical officer.

In 1964 the Royal Commission on Medical Education, in an interim report, recommended that two new medical schools should be created to increase the supply of doctors. These were to be the first medical facilities founded this century and were to be placed with the Universities of Nottingham and Southampton. In July 1964 it was announced in Parliament that a new medical school was to be established in Nottingham in conjunction with a new teaching hospital of 1200 beds. Sir Robert Aitken [q.v.], vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham, was consulted and suggested a medical advisory committee. This was established under the chairmanship of Sir George Pickering [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.464] and reported in January 1965. It recommended a strategic plan to take advantage of this unique opportunity to develop a large teaching hospital and medical school from scratch. As the newly appointed medical planning officer, Jim Scott joined the team which was to create Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, bringing to the project his balanced enthusiasm, a remarkable range of knowledge and a generosity which demanded respect. Legal problems over site acquisition delayed construction and much improvization was needed to admit students in 1970, albeit in small numbers. The main design work was completed on time and there were sufficient hospital facilities for the start of the clinical course in 1973.

While at Nottingham, Scott served on the board of medical studies which was the forerunner of the faculty board and was involved in the creation and development of the new undergraduate curriculum. He went on to become senior lecturer in the department of community medicine under the enthusiastic leadership of the foundation professor, Maurice Backett.

In 1971 Jim Scott was appointed as senior administrative medical officer to the Sheffield Regional Hospital Board at the early age of 39. In 1973 this transformed itself into the Trent Regional Health Authority and he continued as regional medical officer until his retirement in 1988. This post allowed him to oversee and continue to contribute to the development of the Nottingham Hospitals and the University Medical Faculty.

In 1974 Scott became a special professor of health care planning at the University of Nottingham. While Jim Scott was at Trent RHA, Leicester University founded their medical school which produced the first graduates in 1980. The creation and successful development of two new medical schools with their associated hospital and health service facilities in the southern half of the Trent region was a unique achievement. Jim Scott played a very important and pivotal key role in this creation.

While regional medical officer, Jim Scott was a member and president of the hospital committee of the European Economic Union. He was the first Briton to hold the post. The hospital committee comprised four health service delegates from each of the then nine Common Market countries. The committee's objective was to promote a uniformly high standard of hospital care and to foster efficiency, effectiveness and humanity in the organization and running of hospital services.

On retiring as the regional medical officer he became a professor of health service planning in the department of community medicine at the University of Sheffield. He held the Masur fellowship of Nuffield Provincial Hospital Trust during 1983. He served the faculty of community medicine of the Royal College of Physicians as its treasurer from 1984 to 1986. He was also an honorary physician to the Queen.

During retirement he maintained his interest in education and was chairman of the board of governors of the Mid-Trent College of Nursing and Midwifery from 1989 until the time of its incorporation into the faculty of medicine and life science of the University of Nottingham. He was also an associate professor of health service planning at Sheffield University.

Scott enjoyed the Dordogne and had a property there which he carefully cared for and renovated. Philately was his hobby and on the day of release of new issue stamps he would be seen making his way to a post office to enhance his collection. He did not enjoy good health, and for over half his life he was afflicted with chest disease. In spite of this, there was a determination to succeed and an ability to overcome this adversity. However this led to his retirement at the age of 57. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, whom he married in 1957.

She is the director of nursing services at Crumpsall Hospital in Manchester. He is also survived by his son, a consultant vascular surgeon in Leeds, and by his two daughters.

A D M Greenfield
J B Bourke

[The Times, 26 May 1997; The Independent, 14 May 1997]

(Volume X, page 437)

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