Lives of the fellows

Kenneth Arthur Latter

b.11 May 1906 d.8 April 1999
MRCS LRCP(1934) MB BS Lond(1935) MD(1938) MRCP(1938) FRCP(1948)

Kenneth Arthur Latter was a general physician with a special interest in neurology based at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and an authority on life assurance medicine. He was born in London. From 1925 to 1928 he worked for the Bank of England and became an associate of the Institute of Bankers. He then changed careers and entered St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School, from which he qualified in 1934.

After house appointments at St Bartholomew’s he spent two years on a medical fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, USA. On his return in 1937 he returned to Bart’s, as a chief assistant in medicine. Here he worked for two years under D E Denny-Brown [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.146]. It was during this period that he first became interested in neurology.

In 1938 he gained his MD and MRCP and in the ensuing year was appointed consultant physician to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Two years later, in 1941, he enlisted in the RAFVR where Sir Charles Symonds [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.563], in charge of war-time RAF neurology, invited him to join a small band of doctors who were chiefly concerned with the medical problems of flying and the sickness and disabilities from which air-crew were liable to suffer. With the rank of wing-commander he served as a neuro-psychiatrist in the United Kingdom and India.

After his return to Norwich in 1945 he played a leading role on various bodies, developing the hospital service in Norwich and Norfolk during the post-war period and after the inception of the National Health Service in 1948. At the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital he established and took clinical charge of a new department of neurology which had close links with the regional centre of neuro-surgery at Cambridge. He also established new departments of diabetes and rheumatology which were handed on to the care of new consultants in these specialties.

He was appointed an examiner in medicine to Cambridge University, was a member of the Heberden Society and a council member of the neurological section of the Royal Society of Medicine. In Norfolk he was elected chairman of the Norwich division of the British Medical Association in 1956. Two years later he was made president of the then Norfolk branch of the Association. From 1954 to 1957 he was a trustee of Norwich Consolidated Charities and in 1967, the centenary year of its formation, he was elected president of the Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society. He was especially interested in the work of the Norwich Medical Benevolent Society, founded in 1786 and the oldest such society in the United Kingdom. He was a trustee of the Society from 1957 to 1975 and was its chairman for over twenty years.

In 1946, a year after his return from war service, Kenneth was elected to the medical committee of the Norwich Union Insurance Group and thus began his interest in assurance medicine for which he was to achieve an international reputation. From 1954 to 1981 he was chief medical adviser to the Norwich Union Insurance Group and chairman of its medical committee. From 1954 to 1976 he was also a director of the Norwich Union Life Insurance and Fire Insurance Societies and for the last two years of these appointments was elected a vice-chairman of both boards of directors. In addition he held directorships of other insurance bodies.

His national standing in life assurance medicine was recognised by his election to the council of the Assurance Medical Society where he was among the first to be elected to the Society’s fellowship and of which, from 1963 to 1965, he was president. From 1963 he was also elected as Britain’s representative on the International Committee for Life Insurance Medicine. From 1976 to 1982 he was president of this body and presided over its 14th International Conference held at Madrid in 1979.

Kenneth Latter was a man of great personal charm and much wisdom who left a personal legacy in all that he did for Norfolk and Norwich medicine. He had a number of interests outside medicine. When a young man he played tennis as a county player for Essex for twelve years and he continued to play regular tennis for many years. He was also a golfer and fisherman. In addition he was a musician and an accomplished pianist and was able to enjoy both music and bridge until a short time before his death that took place a month before his 93rd birthday. He died at his home in Southwold to which he had retired and where, after his death, a thanksgiving service for his life was held in its 15th century parish church of St Edmund’s. He was predeceased by his wife Priscilla. They had two daughters and a son.

Anthony Batty Shaw

[Brit.med.J., 1999,318,1626-7]

(Volume XI, page 326)

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