Lives of the fellows

William Edgar Parkes

b.14 December 1921 d.23 September 2001
MB BCh BAO Belfast(1945) MD(1948) DCH(1948) MRCP(1952) FRCP(1975)

William Edgar Parkes was a consultant physician and cardiologist at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry. A native of Portadown in Northern Ireland, he attended Portadown College and Bangor Grammar School, and then proceeded to Queen’s University, Belfast, to read medicine. After junior hospital posts at Belfast City and Royal Victoria Hospitals, Belfast, he was appointed a consultant physician in geriatric medicine in Leeds in 1957.

He returned to Northern Ireland in 1961 to a post of consultant physician at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry, the first district general hospital to be built in the United Kingdom after the setting up of the National Health Service.

At Altnagelvin Hospital Edgar Parkes set up and developed hospital and mobile coronary care units at a time in the 1960s when exciting developments were occurring in management of acute coronary crisis. Throughout his professional career he was unrelenting in a continuing development plan for the cardiac unit and promoted the development of cardiac angiography. This development became operational a matter of weeks after his death.

It was a feature of Edgar’s working life that on a recurring basis he would only take a small fraction of his annual leave. He remained single and would consistently do on call work at all major holiday times, including Christmas and Easter, to ensure that younger married colleagues could be with their families.

Outside medicine he was interested in ornithology, archaeology, travel and gardening. These interests proved complementary: he would return from somewhere like Crete, where he had gone to look at some Roman ruins, with stories of unexpected bird life, perhaps winter kingfishers in small Cretan harbours.

In retirement Edgar led a very private life and was ever apologetic to colleagues when he had to seek medical attention. His colleagues of former years mourned the passing of a kindly, gracious and dedicated physician who had contributed so much to the hospital where he had spent the greater part of his career.

A J Keegan

[Brit.med.J.,2001,323,1133]

(Volume XI, page 440)

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