Lives of the fellows

Ian Osborne Bradford Spencer

b.29 March 1914 d.January 1978
MB BS Durh(1932) MRCP(1948) FRCP(1967)

Ian Spencer was the son of George Herbert Spencer, a well known general practitioner on Tyneside. He was educated at Newcastle Preparatory School and later at Sedbergh School, becoming an undergraduate in the medical school at Newcastle in the University of Durham in 1932, and graduating in 1937. After graduating he held various junior hospital posts in his teaching hospital, and in the Newcastle area, and in 1939 joined the RAMC, becoming medical officer to the 2nd Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment. He was captured at Dunkirk and was a prisoner of war in German hands from 1940 to 1945, being mentioned in despatches for his distinguished services during the campaign which led to the evacuation from Dunkirk.

After his release from captivity, he returned to Newcastle, becoming a post-service medical registrar at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he worked with AG Ogilvie and his assistant physician, Henry Miller. At the inception of the National Health Service, Spencer was appointed senior registrar, and continued to work in that capacity in general medicine until 1950, when he spent a year as senior registrar in paediatrics with Sir James Spence. Late in 1950 he was appointed physician in general medicine to the Tynemouth Victoria Jubilee Infirmary and the Preston Hospital, where he served until his untimely death in 1979.

As a senior registrar, he was a popular and enthusiastic teacher, and when he moved to Tynemouth he continued to invite students from the medical school to be attached to his clinic because of his interest in undergraduate teaching, even though in the 1950s it was not conventional for students to spend time in regional hospitals. He was a compassionate, thoughtful and caring physician, who continued to contribute to the medical literature on various topics in general medicine after his appointment to his consultant post, despite carrying a very heavy burden of clinical responsibility and a thriving part-time private practice. Several of his papers on factors associated with perforation in peptic ulcer, on haematemesis and melaena, and on ferrous sulphate poisoning in children, each published in the British Medical Journal, attracted considerable attention.

Ian was a popular consultant with local general practitioners, and was frequently called upon by colleagues whenever members of their own families required medical attention. He was a faithful member of the Newcastle upon Tyne and Northern Counties medical society, a regular attender at scientific meetings locally, and frequently, even in his later years of practice, presented papers to the Regional Association of Physicians. Outside his work, his principal interest was in golf, and he was for many years a member of the Northumberland Golf Club, where at one time he held a handicap in single figures. He also played at Bamburgh on the north east coast where he spent many family holidays with his wife, Elspeth Catto, née Strang, and their two daughters.

Sir John Walton

(Volume VII, page 551)

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