Lives of the fellows

John Vernon Cannadine Braithwaite

b.13 November 1895 d.19 October 1969
MRCS LRCP(1919) MB BS Lond(1920) MRCP(1921) MD(1922) FRCP(1938)

John Vernon Cannadine Braithwaite, the son of John Oldham Braithwaite, a pharmaceutical chemist, was bom at Twickenham. His mother, Mary Elizabeth Merrett, was a daughter of Richard Merrett, a school headmaster. He was educated at Forest School in Essex, and at Guy’s Hospital, which he entered in 1914. Because of a high degree of myopia he was rejected for military service. He had a distinguished career at Guy’s, winning the Treasurer’s Gold Medal for clinical medicine in 1919 and being placed proxime accessit in the examination for the Murchison Scholarship of the College for which he was awarded a special prize in 1920.

After qualifying with the conjoint diploma in 1919 he held the appointments at Guy’s of assistant house surgeon (OPD), house physician, house physician for diseases of children; clinical assistant to the children’s department 1921-1922, and demonstrator of pathological chemistry, 1921-1922. Also in 1921 he was appointed Assistant Physician to the Queen’s Hospital for Children (now Queen Elizabeth’s) Hackney Road, but resigned in the following year when he was elected an Honorary Assistant Physician to the Leicester Royal Infirmary and Children’s Hospital. This appointment carried with it the care of adults and children. In 1930 he became Senior Physician, and in 1946, by which time he was also on the staff of the City General Hospital in Leicester, he gave up his work with adults and became the first paediatrician to the Royal Infirmary.

In his early years up to 1938 in Leicester, Braithwaite, for economic reasons, worked as a general practitioner. He never regretted the period spent in general practice, maintaining that it gave him a valuable insight into the home conditions and other aspects of child care. It led to the publication in 1930 of his book Infant Feeding in General Practice which was popular in its day and which went into a second edition in 1943. He also established a close liaison with the City Health Authority and School Medical Service, organizing clinics in juvenile rheumatism and enuresis. He founded the Leicester Paediatric Club and held regular ward rounds for medical officers and general practitioners. His good humour, enthusiasm and wide knowledge attracted many of the younger members of the profession who found him a stimulating teacher.

He was elected a member of the British Paediatric Association in 1933; and was President of the section of Paediatrics of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1955, giving his presidential address on enuresis. He contributed papers to the journals on rickets, enuresis, pink disease and the medical treatment of pyloric stenosis.

Braithwaite was a man of simple tastes. He enjoyed gardening, country walks and bird watching. He was deeply religious, and well versed in the philosophy and history of the church. He took an active part in its life, serving for twenty years as a lay canon of Leicester cathedral. He founded and became the mainstay of the Leicester Christian Medical Association in which medical men met the clergy to discuss questions of mutual interest. He was a firm believer in spiritual healing.

After his retirement in 1960, and in spite of increasing disability caused by coronary insufficiency, which he met with a cheerful composure, he carried on with his local authority clinics until the day of his death, which came suddenly in his home.

Braithwaite married Muriel Kathleen Gregory in 1928. There were two children, Elizabeth and John, both medically qualified and engaged in general practice.

SE Tanner

[, 1969, 4, 306; Lancet, 1969, 2, 965; Times, 1 Nov 1969; Leicester Mercury, 21 Oct 1969]

(Volume VI, page 62)

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