Lives of the fellows

Anthony Raymond Tanser

b.26 October 1933 d.? June 2003
MRCS LRCP(1956) MB BS Lond(1956) MRCP(1961) MD(1969) FRCP(1975)

Tony Tanser was a long-serving general physician in Bath with a special interest in respiratory medicine. He is best remembered as a clinician who was always interested in innovation, particularly technology, and was adept at creating a close-knit team which he supported quietly and honestly with a policy of non-interference.

Son of a chartered accountant, he was born in Leicester, educated at Oundle and studied medicine at King's College Hospital, London. During his time as a medical student he won three prizes and was awarded a senior scholarship, qualifying in 1956.

After house officer posts at King's College Hospital, the Brompton and Central Middlesex Hospitals, his career was interrupted by national service duties with the RAMC. He found his time in Nairobi and surrounding parts of Kenya both stimulating and an eye-opener, relatively primitive but offering great opportunity for relying on ones own resources, adaptation and innovation, and later an inexhaustible source of anecdotes.

Once back in England, his career progressed rapidly at King's College Hospital, from medical registrar to senior medical registrar. He then went to the USA as MRC research fellow at the University of Pittsburgh in 1967. Returning to his senior registrar post, he was soon appointed as consultant physician in Bath, with particular responsibility for the chest service.

He found that the chest service was based on TB treatment at a nearby chest hospital and over the next ten years he supervised the steady modernisation of the service as cancer overtook TB as the common killer. He integrated the chest team and inpatient beds into general medicine in Bath, developing a fibre-optic bronchoscopy service (although he never performed this himself) and starting a respiratory intensive care unit. Always interested in the new, he was early in developing computer literacy and wrote his own computer programme for sleep studies in the mid-1980s.

Once respiratory medicine was on an equal footing with other specialities in Bath, he took on wider management duties for the hospital, becoming chair of the medical division and then chair of the medical board. His style was quiet but thoughtful, terse but effective. He was generally regarded as a wise man.

He was an active member of the West Country Chest Society (president for one term), West Country Physicians' Club, Bath Clinical Society (honorary treasurer) and Bath Science Club. His interest in matters technological, particularly medical engineering, was evidenced by his being a member of the board of governors of the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering.

He was an able clinician with an encyclopaedic knowledge, supportive yet not interfering, shy but a great raconteur with a sharp sense of humour. Not gregarious, his interests tended to the solitary - reading, sailing and fly-fishing (on which he published articles) - and after retirement he maintained his intellectual interest and curiosity by being a college student again in a variety of subjects.

Tony is survived by his wife, Jean. They met at King's when Jean was a ward sister, married in 1966 and had one son and a daughter.

Chris Higgins

(Volume XI, page 574)

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