Lives of the fellows

James McElfrish Neilson

b.5 April 1924 d.30 June 2000
MB ChB Glasg(1946) DPH(1950) MRCP Edin(1953) MRCP(1954) FRCP Edin(1968) MRCP Glasg(1969) FRCP Glasg(1971) FRCP Lond(1983)

Jim Neilson served as a consultant physician at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow for thirty years. After training as a general physician, as was the custom in the 1950s, he developed a special interest in diabetes and published several papers in this field in scientific journals. His main contribution to medical practice was to emphasise the importance of caring for the individual patient. It was said of him by his patients: "When I was with him I was made to feel that I was the only person who mattered to him".

Jim was a superb and popular teacher of medical students, both undergraduate and post-graduate. He encouraged all students to study and learn by example, showing genuine concern for the individual patient.

After qualification, Jim spent two years in the Royal Air Force in venereology and rose to the rank of squadron leader. At that period, he also developed a special affection for Africa. This was to be reestablished in later years when he was seconded with a team of doctors from the University of Glasgow as a lecturer at Makerere University in Nairobi, Kenya. There he found time to develop an interest and considerable skill in photography. He often waxed eloquently on the pleasures of life in Nairobi, where he enjoyed cross-country journeys with his family - wife Joan and their two sons, both of whom became doctors.

Affectionately know as 'Big Jim', he was noted for his intrinsic loyalty to all those with whom he made contact. He had the superb gift of repartee and banter in company - where he excelled.

After his retirement, Jim became a part-time medical adviser to the Ministry of Defence.

He enjoyed golf, and the friendships which came with that interest. Oil painting was a late development - and he had considerable success. He also enjoyed playing bridge, mainly for the happy company which this brought.

He had very many happy holidays on the Isle of Arran, with Joan and their sons.

Jim died from metastatic carcinoma of the prostate.

Sir T J Thomson

[Proc.R.Coll.Physicians.Edinb: 2000;30:270; Brit.med.J., 2000,321,515]

(Volume XI, page 418)

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