Lives of the fellows

Ian Lloyd Woolf

b.25 September 1939 d.27 March 1997
MA BM BCh Oxon(1964) MRCP(1969) FRCP(1985)

Ian Lloyd Woolf was a consultant physician with a special interest in gastroenterology at the North Middlesex Hospital. He was born in Carlisle, the son a Northumbrian general practitioner. He attended the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne, before going on to St John’s College, Oxford. He later pursued his clinical studies at University College Hospital. He was proud of his northern roots and this fuelled his support for the welfare state and the NHS in particular.

He worked as a medical registrar at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, returning to the UK in 1968 to be a casualty officer and then medical registrar at University College and the Whittington Hospitals. He married Gillian, a schoolteacher, in 1969. In 1970 he was a Harvard research fellow at Boston City Hospital before his appointment as lecturer in medicine at the University Hospital of South Manchester.

From 1972 he spent five years as lecturer in medicine and honorary senior registrar on the liver unit at King’s College Hospital. His research interests were in the field of liver disease related to hepatitis carrier states, neutrophil function and coagulopathy, and he published in the American Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Pathology, British Medical Journal and British Journal of Haematology.

He was appointed consultant physician with an interest in gastroenterology at the North Middlesex Hospital from 1977 until his untimely death. In his years there he established an endoscopy unit, was chairman of the drugs and therapeutics committee and medical staff committee, and was latterly medical director.

He was a cultured man and was proud of his family. His wife Gillian left teaching and retrained to work for Relate, helping others less fortunate within their relationships. His two children both developed a keen independence of mind and spirit, leaning towards the arts rather than medicine as careers. Away from medicine Ian had many interests. He enjoyed the theatre, art, jazz and travel. For several years he started the working day at dawn, studying for an Open University degree in social science before going off to the rigours of a full time consultant post.

As a dedicated and compassionate clinician he was never dismissive and always acutely aware of the relationship between health and social circumstance. He was a strong supporter of the Hospital League of Friends, believing in the crucial bond which links the lay public and the professional. He established and supported local patient self-help groups and was often to be seen manning their stalls at hospital fêtes. His warm and informal manner endeared him to both students and junior staff, many of whom remained his friends. An inspired lateral thinker, his teaching sessions were always informative and fun.

He will however be remembered most as a loyal and supportive colleague who battled against injustice and inequality. He worked tirelessly to improve the lot of his patients and staff. The endoscopy unit at the North Middlesex Hospital rightly bears his name and it was fitting that at the dedication ceremony every religious denomination, ethnic caste and social class assembled to remember him.

David Harris

[Brit.med.J., 1997,315,685]

(Volume X, page 533)

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