Lives of the fellows

Alan James Franklin

b.21 August 1933 d.18 November 2003
MRCS LRCP(1960) DH(1962) DObst(1962) MRCP Edin(1968) FRCP(1982) FRCP Edin(1983) FRCPCH(1997)

Alan Franklin was a consultant paediatrician at Chelmsford from 1972 until 1998. While covering all aspects of the specialty, as peripheral consultants then had to do, he was particularly interested in allergy and postviral fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalopathy (ME).

His early education was disturbed by the war. His secondary education was at Emmanuel College, Clapham. After National Service in the RAF, he was at University College in his pre-clinical years and at the West London Hospital, Hammersmith Broadway, for his clinical. At that time, this was a small independent school not recognised by London University, and so, in 1960, he qualified with the conjoint. His junior hospital jobs were at Hillingdon, West Middlesex, Wigan, Lancashire, Edgware and the Royal Free.

Charles Warren [Munk's Roll, Vol. XI] had looked after children single-handedly in both Chelmsford and Colchester since 1948 and was replaced by two men when he retired, including Alan. Alan moved to live in a well-built house conveniently close to St John's Hospital. He worked two days a week at Black Notley Hospital, then part of the North East Essex District, a regional centre for orthopaedics, but also admitting acute paediatric cases to the children's ward. In return, a consultant from Colchester came to mid-Essex on two days and shared acute on call, usually shielded by the one registrar. Alan dealt directly through the houseman, who seldom had any previous paediatric experience, in the general wards and special care baby unit. This continued until 1985, when two new consultant colleagues were appointed and thereafter junior staffing also improved.

He quickly saw that inpatients could not be kept at Notley with adequate safety and closed the ward, against a good deal of understandable opposition. However, he supported a day nursery and Longview School there for those with nursing, developmental and physical problems. He was involved with the provision of a fine new baby unit at St John's, with some capacity for intensive care. Broomfield Hospital, on the other side of town, was enlarged and casualty and many specialties moved there from Chelmsford and Essex, and St John's hospitals.

Alan was a careful and considerate doctor, not averse to hard work arising from increasing demands, the result of scientific advances and a growing population. He had wide experience and expertise across the spectrum of acute and chronic disorders of children. He paid special attention to those with cystic fibrosis and diabetes and was among the first to arrange for a specialist nurse to support diabetics at home, thus reducing the time they had to spend in hospital. In particular, he was impressed by the commonness and variety of manifestations of 'allergic' reactions, as in behaviour disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and asthma. Then, when 'ME' seemed to become more common, he was moved by the plight of those who lacked energy to continue normal life and showed (much appreciated) sympathetic concern, stressing the importance of rest in the management of the condition. He was on the National Task Force for ME and worked with Action for ME.

He married Ursula in 1959 and it was a long, supportive and happy relationship. He was justifiably proud of his two daughters, son and grandchildren. The responsibilities of work left him little time for hobbies, but he much liked trains and had a model track laid out in the loft and built two very large working steam locomotives in the garage from kits. He was fully committed, faithful Baptist, involved with the Crusaders youth club, and his clear tenor speaking voice carried well. He was of average size, with rather sharp features and springy hair, remaining lean and active throughout his working life.

He had hoped to continue to help his friends with ME after his retirement, but in August 2002 he had a stroke which affected his right side. This did not badly affect his speech or fortitude and, after many weeks of rehabilitation, he managed to return home, with the help of his wife. However, he had found when he retired that he carcinoma of the prostate. This became active again and spread: it did not respond to intensive treatment and caused his death.

R B Woodd-Walker

(Volume XI, page 206)

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