Lives of the fellows

Philip Andrew Banks Raffle

b.3 September 1918 d.23 January 2004
OBE MB BS London(1941) MRCS LRCP(1941) MD(1948) DPH(1948) DIH(1949) MRCP(1967) FRCP(1974) FFOM RCP(1978) FRCS(1982)

Andrew Raffle was a former chief medical officer of London Transport and an expert on medical standards for driving. He served occupational medicine at a most sensitive time in its post-war evolution and, by his efforts, laid the groundwork for much of today's structure of the discipline.

Although his family originally came from the north east, where his father was a distinguished barrister and medical officer, Andrew's education and subsequent career, after his army service, was spent in and around London. He was educated at St Paul's School and then went on to Middlesex Hospital Medical School, qualifying in 1941. He served in the army for five years, ending his service as a venerologist in north Africa.

After demobilisation, Andrew chose the burgeoning specialty of industrial (later occupational) medicine on which to bestow his talents. What caused him to apply for, and subsequently join, London Transport's medical service must be shrouded in the past, but there he was fortunate to fall under the spell of the late Leslie Norman [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.360], not only a leader in this field, but an inspiring teacher, a man of great humanity and an excellent physician. It seems natural, nay inevitable, that in 1969 Andrew should succeed him as chief medical officer. He did this at a time when large companies and large public services, of which London Transport was one of the largest, had their own in-house medical services. What is not recorded in his memorable curriculum vitae is the key role he played in a select and informal group, known to its members as the chief medical officers' group. This body met informally every two months and discussed the latest developments in occupational medicine.

Andrews' time at London Transport was an exciting period in medicine and particularly occupational medicine. It is typical of the man that he trained his staff so well that the service ran on oiled wheels, giving Andrew time, and opportunity, to exercise his fertile mind in broader fields.

Services such as London Transport, in those days, demanded and got wide influence in the field of first aid and Andrew speedily became a dominating influence in the St John Association which, as distinct from the uniformed Brigade, was responsible for first aid teaching. In this field Andrew held an unrivalled record in master-minding the 'Save a Life' campaign to teach resuscitation to the wider public. He coupled this with energetic campaigning for safer driving and was a valued member of the Blennerhasset committee which, in retrospect, did so much to lay the groundwork for future drink-driving legislation.

It seemed natural that he should be appointed chief medical officer of St John Association, which benefited from its close association with the Brigade, headed by yet another occupational physician. In this, as in his other multifarious activities, he did his share of committee work, not only in St John, but also in the BMA which, in time, recognised his worth by electing him a fellow.

Never afraid to be involved, he served the Society of Occupational Medicine well, being its president. He was also deeply committed to the Royal Society of Medicine, where he served, in the boiler room, as honorary treasurer, became a vice-president and was elected a fellow.

Andrew was a clear thinker, a man who had kept himself up to date, not only in medicine but in the wider field of medical politics. He was an excellent chairman of committees under whose watchful eye it was a pleasure to sit. He had an outstanding grasp of committee procedure, which he deployed to good effect.

One of his last achievements was to be a member of the standing committee which spawned the new Faculty of Occupational Medicine in 1978. He became, fittingly, a founder fellow and served on the first board of the new Faculty.

He retired from London Transport at 65, but he continued to work and wield his influence. Although he and his wife, Jill, moved to rural Oxfordshire, he was still to be found at least weekly in the Royal Society of Medicine, where he continued to be a benign influence in not only his chosen specialty but in medicine in general.

Andrew was a kindly man with a great capacity to listen and observe and, when he could, to help. Sadly, his later years were clouded by his wife's chronic illness and he was no longer seen in his familiar haunts.

Roy Archibald

(Volume XI, page 467)

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