Lives of the fellows

Frederick Hugh Young

b.15 June 1892 d.22 September 1969
OBE(1918) BA Cantab(1913) LMSSA(1915) MB BChir(1920) MRCP(1922) DPH(1922) MD(1926) FRCP(1932)

Frederick Young, or Freddie as he was always known to his contemporaries and junior medical staff, was born in Liverpool where his father, Frederick Hugh Young, was a merchant. His mother Alice was the daughter of Hugh Cawley, owner of a dye works. He remembered with affection his early years in Merseyside, where he attended Greenbank School and then went to Shrewsbury School nearby. He was a man who was influenced much by his environment and the three years he spent at Trinity College, Cambridge he never forgot. He obtained a second class honours degree in the National Science Tripos.

He entered St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1913 and took the LMSSA in 1915 in order that he should qualify to practise in the shortest possible time, and then entered the RAMC. His distinguished service, mainly in the Balkans, was rewarded with his appointment as OBE. He attained the rank of Major. Shortly after his return to England he was amused to find that he had been struck off the Medical Register, due to confusion over his name and that of another who had died on active service. In later years, he claimed that he was alone in having been struck off and then appointed FRCP.

After serving in junior appointments at Bart’s and the Metropolitan Hospital, he was appointed physician in charge of the Tuberculosis Clinic at Barts in 1922. This outpatient clinic was held twice weekly under the auspices of the City of London and, much as he must have been saddened never to have been appointed to the full staff, it allowed him to retain an active association with Bart’s for the next forty years, that is until he was 70. He was also a member of the Medical Council for a few years before he retired, which gave him much pleasure.

Choosing chest medicine as his specialty, he was appointed assistant physician at Brompton in 1926, having previously been house physician at its County Branch at Frimley. He also became assistant physician to Charing Cross Hospital in the same year.

At Charing Cross he quickly became a valuable member of the staff, practising general medicine with a special interest in diseases of the chest. He served as Dean in his methodical way from 1927 to 1934. Unhappily, he contracted active pulmonary tuberculosis in 1929 and was away sick for many months. A relapse in 1934 caused him to reduce his medical commitments. Much to his regret and the regret of his colleagues he resigned from the active staff in 1935, when he was appointed consulting physician.

The staff appointment at Brompton in 1926 determined the course of his professional life. He attended punctiliously to his duties, especially in the out-patient department where in due course he developed a very large clinic for artificial pneumothorax refills. Indeed, this aspect of the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis was the one in which he became especially skilled. He insisted upon accuracy in radiographic screening and the insertion of refill needles partly, perhaps, because he had a bilateral artificial pneumothorax himself. In the years before his retirement he was chairman of the Medical Committee, a difficult assignment in any hospital, but one which he discharged very efficiently and amicably whilst retaining the complete confidence of the staff. He devoted far more time to this office than did most chairmen of similar hospital committees.

In the specialty of chest diseases, Freddie was regarded as the final court of appeal in the clinical management of pulmonary tuberculosis. He had the honour of being President of the Thoracic Society in 1954, and of being awarded the Parkes-Weber prize by the Royal College of Physicians in 1963 for outstanding work in tuberculosis. He had a large private practice, much of it being devoted to pneumothorax refills.

His lithe figure was neatly attired and his impressive appearance and bearing led distinction to any gathering. He was in no respect a scholar or scientist, but within his limited field he possessed common sense to an enviable degree. He never neglected the effect of illness upon the socio-economic aspects of his patients’ lives and always worked in close collaboration with almoners. His ability as a teacher was limited, his juniors learning from him mainly by observing his methods. He was willing to state his case clearly but did not enjoy discussion or argument, when he easily found himself at a disadvantage. Certainly his house physicians gained much from him, but he was difficult to know and on first acquaintance often gave the impression of austerity and aloofness. He was not at ease with the pen, the few papers which appeared under his name being mainly written in collaboration with others. He was interested in antiques and enjoyed playing bridge. Fortunately he had little respiratory disability in his later years and he found much pleasure in golf. In the last few months of his life he developed a cardiac irregularity and then succumbed to a massive cerebral haemorrhage.

In 1928 he married Stella May, daughter of Edgar Francis Robinson, a banker, and they spent many happy years together at their home in Oxted, Surrey, whilst living in a flat in London during weekdays. Indeed, it is difficult to think of Freddie apart from his delightful family. He had a son, Neil, who became a stockbroker. His daughter Janet qualified as a doctor at Bart’s and married a contemporary student; they settled in Truro, where he was appointed haematologist.

NC Oswald

[, 1969, 4, 54, 117; Lancet, 1969, 2, 750; The Times, 26 Sept 1969]

(Volume VI, page 483)

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