Lives of the fellows

Peter Neville Swift

b.6 January 1917 d.22 June 1977
MRCS LRCP(1941) MRCP(1948) FRCP(1970)

Peter Swift was consultant paediatrician to the Bromley Area Health Authority. He was educated at Malvern College and Guy’s Hospital, London, where he qualified with the conjoint in 1941, having previously spent some time in veterinary studies. He subsequently joined the Indian Medical Service, transferring to the Indian Army Medical Corps and seeing service in the Mediterranean, where he lost a leg during the Allied landings in southern Italy. He obtained the MRCP in 1948 and was elected a fellow in 1970.

Peter was born in Eccleshall, Staffordshire, the son of a retired farmer, Henry Swift, and his wife Alice, daughter of Thomas Hallam, a mill owner. In 1945 he married Barbara Grace Margaret, daughter of Thomas William Minchin, a com merchant. They had three children: two daughters and a son. All his life Peter remained a lover of the country, and his interests included riding, beagling and tennis. He was also a talented artist. In 1969 he went to Mbale, Uganda, to set up a regional paediatric department, and during this time he made an exquisite collection of paintings of the wild flowers of that country. He had great talent as an administrator and the excellent records he kept during his stay in Uganda have formed the basis for further research work in the planning of health centres in developing countries.

He was appointed consultant paediatrician at Farnborough Hospital, in the Bromley group, in January 1950, and was consultant to the children’s department at Sevenoaks Hospital, and to the general practitioner maternity unit when this was opened. During his early years he also provided consultant cover over a wide area of Kent. His interest in paediatrics covered a broad field, including mental subnormality. He carried out a research project on the genetic aspect of this disorder and was paediatrician in charge of Cheyne Hospital, West Wickham, a long-stay hospital for handicapped children. He initiated a comprehensive perinatal survey of all the babies born in the Bromley area, extending it to cover hospitals in the Cray Valley and Sevenoaks group. He also obtained approval for a computerized project, which has been continued. He wrote a considerable number of articles, despite his heavy clinical load, and was interested in antibiotics and their correct use. His book The Physician's Guide to Chemotherapy was published in 1952, and an article on antibiotics and host resistance appeared in the British Medical Journal in 1957.

On his retirement he moved to Dorset, where he maintained his interest in medicine and acted temporarily as consultant paediatrician at Dorchester. He was much in demand on working parties of the Conference of Missionary Societies, the British Paediatric Association, and WHO. He also spent a happy year making a survey of those trees in the district which he thought worthy of a preservation order; a list which was accepted in full by the authorities.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
Valérie Luniewska

[, 1977, 2, 711; Lancet, 1977, 2, 259]

(Volume VII, page 562)

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