Lives of the fellows

Andrew Allison

b.11 June 1916 d.20 May 2001
BSc Glasg(1936) MB ChB(1939) MRCP(1948) MD(1949) FRCP(1972) FRCPS Glasg

Andrew Allison was a popular physician with a special interest in endocrinology at the Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, a fellow of the British Medical Association, and honorary fellow of the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS). His working life spanned 52 years from his first post as house surgeon, until his retirement aged 75, as convenor of the council of the MDDUS.

Son of Andrew Allison (eminent5051 professor of medical jurisprudence at St Mungo's College, Glasgow), he attended the High School and the University of Glasgow. After a shortened house job at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary he was commissioned in the RAMC and served in West Africa and Burma with the 51st West Africa Division.

On discharge as a major in 1946 he returned to the Royal Infirmary as a clinical research scholar and gained his postgraduate qualifications. He was appointed senior registrar in medicine and then moved as consultant in 1950 to the post he held for 28 years. He was highly regarded by his colleagues, patients and students and built up a successful private practice on the south side of Glasgow. His publications included papers on liver function in thyrotoxicosis, adult congenital adrenal hyperplasia and early mobilisation in myocardial infarction.

He was a staunch BMA member and became deeply involved in medical politics. He served on many national committees, including the medico-legal sub-committee and chaired the Scottish joint consultants committee. He travelled frequently to BMA House on the sleeper to Euston and came to recognise the train drivers, knowing which were more skilled in providing a smooth journey. This knowledge determined the measure of the 'nightcap dram' taken to ensure a good night's rest! In recognition of his service, he was made a fellow of the Association in 1973.

He enjoyed a long professional association with the MDDUS. He was elected to its council in 1967 and served as convenor from 1980 to 1991. In that appointment he carried on a unique family tradition established by his father, who had been convenor from 1943 to 1962. They established a family connection in the appointment covering 30 years, a record unlikely to be surpassed. His knowledge of the medico-legal situation was extensive and invaluable, particularly during the introduction of the Crown Indemnity Scheme for hospital and community doctors and dentists. His period of office saw an exponential growth in medico-legal legislation and an honorary fellowship was awarded on his retirement in recognition of his lifetime support and campaigning on behalf of MDDUS and its membership.

Trout and salmon fishing was his passion and his stories of salmon landed and lost were legendary, as were his gifts of cuts of fresh or smoked salmon to family, friends and colleagues. He would return from his favourite Black Loch in the late evening with platefuls of glistening trout. He could be summoned (when off-duty) from the Loch for an urgent domiciliary consultation by phone call to the boatman's cottage, where a hand bell was rung to advise that duty called! The Tay, Spey and Machrie Water in Arran saw many deep-bodied salmon and fighting sea trout yield to his rod. He excelled at teaching and enthusing others in the art and delighted in a prot├ęge's success. He represented Scotland in international trout fly competitions in the 1960s.

Marriage in 1942 to Joyce followed a long courtship from their meeting on the Isle of Arran in the late 1920s and lasted nearly 60 years until his death. Their house was a true family home, open to family and friends for hospitality, help and wise counsel. Retirement to Newstead in the Borders in 1978 meant time to pursue his beloved angling and entertain friends at Stane Dyke. Holidays on Arran and to the Spey were regular features of life. He became a supporter of Melrose RFC and turned up regularly at the Greenyards and at the annual Sevens Tournament. Equally, he was a fervent supporter of the Scottish national team.

He worked hard and played hard, enjoying his life of many interests and living up to the motto of his birthplace, Govan - 'Nihil sine Labore'.

A G Allison

[Brit.med.J.,2001,323,1132]

(Volume XI, page 10)

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