Lives of the fellows

Basil Strickland

b.24 July 1922 d.4 September 1996
MB BS Lond(1945) DCH(1948) DMRT(1950) DMRD(1952) MRCP(1953) FRCR(1955) Hon FACR(1967) FRCP(1968)

With the death of Basil Strickland, Britain lost one of her outstanding radiologists, particularly in the field of cardiopulmonary radiology. Basil came from a nonmedical family; his father, Ivor George Strickland, had been a company director. After attending King's College School in Wimbledon he enrolled at the University of London and received his undergraduate medical training at St George's, then still at Hyde Park Corner. After qualifying, he undertook house jobs at St George's, followed by a post of RMO at the Victoria Hospital for Children, picking up the diploma in child health on the way. Basil then became a registrar in radiotherapy at the Royal Cancer Hospital (now the Royal Marsden) and obtained the diploma in medical radiotherapy. However, he found radiotherapy an unsatisfactory discipline and switched to diagnostic radiology and trained, first as a registrar and then as a senior registrar, at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, under Rohan Williams [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.450] from 1950 to 1957. During that time he passed the diploma in medical radio-diagnostics examination and subsequently that of the fellowship of the Faculty of Radiologists; the latter becoming the fellowship of the Royal College of Radiologists when the Faculty became a Royal College. He also spent some time as a senior registrar at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. This post resulted in a series of papers on bone disease, including work on Gaucher's disease and synovial sarcoma. These were the early years of angiography and at that time the department at St Mary's was at the forefront of developments under the guidance of David Sutton. Basil mastered the angiographic techniques then available and made extensive use of them when in 1957 he was appointed as a consultant to the London Chest and Westminster Hospitals, and in 1961 to the Brompton Hospital. During this period he published papers on arteriography of bone tumours, renal artery stenosis and arteriography of the fingers.

Westminster Hospital at that time was a leading cardio-thoracic centre, first under Sir Clement Price Thomas [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.382] and later Charles Drew. This provided an opportunity to gain quite exceptional expertise in this field and resulted in a number of papers on aspects of pulmonary and cardiac radiology. He became an integral member of the team managing these patients, particularly those with congenital heart disease. The meetings which took place in the X-ray department under his chairmanship when these patients were discussed were widely attended. They were a model of co-operation between specialties, and of how clinical decisions should be reached. Despite concentrating on pulmonary radiology his opinions in other fields were eagerly sought and were always well worth having.

Unfortunately, over the years and owing to a combination of circumstances, the cardio-pulmonary work at Westminster Hospital declined and Basil's efforts were increasingly centred on the Brompton Hospital. He paid regular visits to meetings in the USA, particularly to the Fleischner Society, and was given the rare distinction of an honorary fellowship of the American College of Radiologists. In more recent years he did original and important work on the use of high resolution computed tomography in the diagnosis of lung disease and was involved in the publication of a series of papers on the subject.

Basil Strickland was an intensely private person who positively shunned the limelight. He served in various capacities with distinction, including his work as editor of the British Journal of Radiology, senior examiner of the Royal College of Radiologists and on numerous committees on behalf of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Radiologists and for the NHS. Characteristically, he avoided positions that would have brought him publicity and never took high office in the Royal College of Radiologists. This was a loss to the College since with his integrity and good judgement he would have made an excellent president. During the political turmoil that afflicted Westminster Hospital for more than two decades, his opinions often differed from those of his colleagues; more often than not he was proved to be right by subsequent events.

It was not easy to get to know him really well and many people failed to appreciate his kindness and ironic sense of humour, aimed at the foibles of mankind and often with a self-deprecating slant that was very endearing. He could, on the rare occasions he chose, be a very accomplished after-dinner speaker and he was also a great lover of poetry.

In 1947 he married Alva Fouracres, herself a doctor, and they had a very happy marriage which truly became the centre of Basils life. Alva was handicapped for many years by progressively severe mitral valve disease (which, however, did not prevent her on one occasion from chasing a burglar out of their house when she happened upon him). Alva died some years ago, leaving an overwhelming sense of loss. In time, with the help of their two daughters, Basil achieved some degree of tranquillity for the remaining short period of life left to him.

F Starer

(Volume X, page 474)

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