Lives of the fellows

Edward Charles Hutchinson

b.10 February 1921 d.15 May 2002
MB ChB(1945) MRCP(1949) MD(1954) FRCP(1962) DSc Keele(2000)

Edward Charles Hutchinson was an outstanding figure in Midlands medicine for more than 25 years in the fields of clinical neurology, medicine, education, research and administration.

Born in Manchester, he attended Mount St Mary’s School and went on to Manchester University and later to the Royal Infirmary. He obtained his MD with commendation on myasthenia gravis, which remained a clinical interest throughout his professional life. He received a major part of his training in neurology at the Manchester hospitals, which was a highly respected centre for neurological training at that time. He was a senior registrar to Fergus Ferguson [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.175].

In 1957 he was appointed to the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary and Stoke hospitals as the first full-time neurologist at Stoke on Trent. When he went to North Staffordshire he had a complement of four beds for neurology, but within a decade he had found the funding and ability to secure a purpose-built neurosciences clinical block of 25 neurology beds and 25 neurosurgical beds. He was singlehanded at first and joined by a second neurologist in 1967. The department now has five consultant neurologists and a number of associated staff in the clinical and research field.

During his professional career he also attended the Midlands Centre for Neurosurgery and Neurology and had responsibilities for neurological services to Stafford, Burton on Trent and Osewestry (Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital).

He made signal and original contributions to the natural history of cerebrovascular disease. This covered original key papers on carotid and vertebral artery syndromes where he drew attention to the importance of the extracranial vascular circulation in cerebrovascular disease. His interest extended to embolic disease and aetiological factors in transient ischaemic attack and stroke. Throughout his clinical and research career he continued to contribute steadily to the national and international literature on cerebrovascular disease and its pathogenesis. He was a much-respected international figure in neurology.

One of his main achievements was the enormous contribution he made to the development of postgraduate medicine in the north Staffordshire region and in the Midlands. He promoted and extended the links with Keele University. He was a founder figure and active in promoting the Medical Institute for Postgraduate Medical Education and Research and the later development of a research block in a district general hospital.

He was a leader in the introduction of rotational teaching through the specialties for junior postgraduate staff. Neurology and cardiology were always at the core of the teaching programme. He was a keen advocate of the grand round and weekly clinical presentations and audit. These were introduced to north Staffordshire in the early 1960s.

He was a man of vision and determination and contributed to the development of the West Midlands Regional Health Authority. He was sharp incisive chairman of regional and national committees who had faith in the concept of medical education and research as the core of the medical ideal.

He was a member of the working party and delegation which first submitted evidence to the department of health to establish a medical school at Keele University in the late 1960s. It was a personal and just reward that the medical school has at last come to fruition. He was graciously conferred an honorary DSc of the University in 2000.

He was a member of the council of the Association of British Neurologists and a guarantor of Brain.

A much loved and respected man, he was a shrewd politician, an excellent teacher and a careful scientific worker. He also had a nice sense of irony and a good sense of humour.

He married Brigid O’Brien in 1948 and they had one son and three daughters in a very closely knit family. He was a keen sportsman throughout his life and had captained the University of Manchester rugby team and also played for Sale Rugby Club. He enjoyed cricket and was a strong supporter of Stoke City Football Club and Manchester City Football Club. He held a season ticket for a number of years at Stoke. He was a keen fly fisherman.

He took early retirement from the hospital and university due to ill health. He had a happy retirement at his family home at Ankerton in Staffordshire and built the home from a farm labourer’s cottage. He loved his garden, maintaining a large vegetable plot and keeping Bantam chickens. He took up woodworking with enthusiasm. He was a practical man but his literary interests were in social history, which he read avidly. In later life he enjoyed tapestry and painting. He told fine stories both to his friends and to his grandchildren.

Despite his many achievements there was an innate modesty in his temperament. He has left an enduring and permanent mark in the foundations of medicine and the university. To know him and to work with him was a privilege. He died with his family.

J R Heron

(Volume XI, page 283)

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