Lives of the fellows

Finlay Graham Campbell

b.28 April 1923 d.23 February 1999
MB BS Lond(1947) MD(1951) MRCP(1950) FRCP(1972)

Finlay Campbell was a neurologist in the Croydon and East Surrey area. He was born in Glasgow, but his family moved south when he was a child. He was educated at Thorpe House Preparatory School in Gerrard's Cross, and the Merchant Taylor's School at Rickmansworth, where he held a classics scholarship. However, even as a schoolboy, his ambition was to be a doctor.

He gained a student place at St Bartholomew's and, his scientific knowledge being inadequate, went for a year to Queens' College, Cambridge, to take the first MB. Following his success, he returned to London and Bart's, where he graduated in 1947 and briefly held a house physician post. Between 1948 and 1950 he was on national service with the RAMC - an experience he did not enjoy.

In 1951 he qualified as MD and returned to Bart's as a junior registrar. In 1952 he was appointed medical registrar at Addenbrooke's Hospital, where he became interested in neurology. In 1954 he was appointed RMO at Maida Vale Hospital for Nervous Diseases. A year later he moved to the National Hospital, Queen Square, where, after training in electrophysiology, he became experienced in clinical electro-encephalography

In 1965 he was appointed consultant neurologist to the Croydon Hospital Group. This was a somewhat peripatetic post covering Mayday Hospital, Croydon, Redhill Hospital, the East Surrey Hospital and Crawley Hospital. The most important of these (though he had clinics in all) was Mayday Hospital. With few beds there, his task was to develop a comprehensive neurological centre at Croydon and thus reduce the number of transfers to Atkinson Morley's Hospital in Wimbledon. Financial considerations delayed the development of the neuroradiology service at Croydon, but in time a neuroradiologist was appointed. The two doctors were compatible from the first and ran the new centre amicably and effectively.

Finlay Campbell was an old style clinician. He believed in listening carefully to the patient's story, making a thorough examination and giving full consideration to all he had heard and seen. He did not hasten his patients, but gave them all the time they needed. Their well-being was his first concern; with them he was always understanding and kind.

He was not a punctual man and the scattered area of his work did not help him to reform. It is said that there was a permanent apologetic notice that 'Dr Campbell will be late' in the outpatient's department of Mayday Hospital. However, he always gave as much time to the last patient as to the first. To the nurses he was always considerate and courteous, and they responded with tolerant affection.

He liked to teach. His clinics and ward rounds were much appreciated by the junior doctors for his clear and practical explanations and demonstrations. On one occasion the full attention of a wide audience was captured by his remarkable lunch time lecture on scrapie and kuru, long before spongiform encephalopathy became such sinister words.

He was much esteemed by his colleagues at Croydon and Redhill as an exceptionally hardworking man for whom everybody had the highest regard, both for his patience and his clinical acumen. To his many friends he was gifted, with a great sense of humour and considerable wit.

He retired from the NHS in 1988, but remained a willing locum at both the Mayday and East Surrey Hospitals for some years. He continued private practice until 1993 and was a contributor to the Medical Appeals Tribunal until 1994.

His private interests were music and archaeology. He played the piano and the French horn. He played the piano well and enjoyed duets with his daughters. He played the French horn minimally, but his children, when small, enjoyed an occasional performance of Twinkle, twinkle little star. He enjoyed both chamber and orchestral music; his favourite composers being Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Richard Strauss. He also took much pleasure in vocal music, both lieder and opera.

His interest in archaeology dated back to school and the classics. He read widely in popular archaeology and had long wished to visit Greek, Turkish and North African sites. When in 1980 he began to take holidays in the Eastern Mediterranean, he was delighted to see for himself what he had previously only read about. His family happily shared a number of the island holidays and the cruises. His last holiday with Swan Hellenic was in 1995, but he continued to take great pleasure in the many photographs which he had taken to remind him of the beautiful things and places that he had seen in the last 15 years.

In 1998 he had a series of small strokes, each time more severe. He died suddenly and peacefully in his sleep, of cerebrovascular disease.

He married Freda Lane, a former nurse at Addenbrooke's Hospital, in 1955. They had three children, one son and two daughters, one of whom is a general practitioner.

W R Morris

[Brit.med.J., 318,1999,1423]

(Volume XI, page 96)

<< Back to List