Lives of the fellows

Edward Charles Arden Bott

b.7 September 1924 d.1 April 2005
CBE(1992) MB BChir Cantab(1949) MRCP(1951) FRCP(1982)

Ted Bott fitted Lord Moran's [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.407] requirements for a doctor extremely well. Lord Moran was asked, when he was dean at St Mary's Hospital, why he selected so many rugby players as medical students. He is reputed to have replied, 'I want men who co-operate well together, are physically fit, make their minds up quickly and are prepared to carry out their decisions immediately. This is what is needed in a doctor and, incidently, they also make good rugger players.'

After leaving Harrow School, Ted went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and played rugby for the university in 1943. He then went to St Thomas's Hospital. After he qualified he was house physician to John Richardson (later Lord Richardson) [Munk's Roll, Vol.IX, p.445] and, on finishing his National Service in Cyprus, returned to St Thomas's, where he took his MRCP in 1951. At that time advancement in the NHS was extremely slow and, on John Richardson's advice in 1954, he joined another St Thomas' graduate, Roger Bevan, in a central London private general practice. His skilled and practical approach was an immediate success with both patients and specialists. He quickly became one of the best known and appreciated general practitioners in central London. In 1955 he succeeded Bevan as medical officer to Westminster School. The partnership had held this position since the Great War.

He realised that a partnership was like marriage: the cement that joined you together is the common interest of work, the respect for each other and the consideration for the differences in the pattern of an individual's life. I cannot remember an occasion when he and I had any major disagreement on diagnosis or treatment of each other's patients. The Monday morning telephone call, to inform the off-duty partner about the condition of his patients over the weekend, had to be brief and informative. Ted was a past master at doing this.

His many patients came from all walks of life. Whatever their backgrounds he treated them all the same, with frankness and compassion. His sense of humour was a help to his patients, partners and family.

Friendship with John Richardson led him into close contact with politicians and the security services. In 1977 he was appointed chief medical officer to the Metropolitan Police. He retired from general practice in 1984, but continued with his police duties until 1992, when he was appointed CBE.

He enjoyed horse racing and was an excellent bridge and golf player. He continued supporting the Bott cup, on the Cresta run, which had been given by his grandfather. He had a long and happy marriage to Veronica and spent several years of enjoyable retirement in Somerset. He had both hips and both knees replaced. He died after a fall, when he dislocated both hips, and then developed hepatic encephalopathy, pneumonia and bleeding from a prepyloric ulcer. He leaves his wife, two sons and six grandchildren.

James Bevan

[Brit.med.J., 330 2005 1274]

(Volume XII, page web)

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