Lives of the fellows

Harold Woolfson

b.16 June 1924 d.21 November 2007
LRCP LRCS Edin LRFPS Glasg(1950) DCH(1964) MRCP Glasg(1967) MRCP Edin(1967) FRCP Glasg(1978) FRCP Edin(1980) MRCP(1986) FRCP(1989)

Harold Woolfson was a former consultant dermatologist to the Greenwich and Bexley Area Health Aurthority. He was born in Glasgow, the son of Joseph Woolfson, a company director, and his wife, Dora. Harold attended the High School in Glasgow and Glasgow Academy, and then studied medicine at Anderson College of Medicine and Glasgow University, qualifying in 1950.

In 1953 he became a single-handed general practitioner in St Vincent’s Street, Glasgow. His training had included 18 months of paediatrics and this interest stimulated him to take on the additional duties of physician superintendent for East Park Home for Infirm Children in 1961 and medical officer for a Barnardo’s home in 1963.

In 1967, after 15 years as a principal in general practice, he gained his MRCP (of both the Edinburgh and Glasgow colleges) - a truly remarkable and singular achievement. A subsequent chance encounter with a consultant dermatologist, Girdwood Fergusson, precipitated an unexpected career change to dermatology in 1970, initially as a registrar and then as a senior registrar at Stobhill General Hospital. He was appointed as a consultant to the Greenwich and Bexley district in south east London in 1974, from which he retired in 1989.

Harold derived great enjoyment and professional satisfaction from his consultant post; he was particularly interested in and published on the dermatological manifestations of systemic disease. An excellent medical teacher, he encouraged junior doctors to take more than a simple interest in dermatology and indeed one is now a professor of dermatology and past president of the British Association of Dermatologists. He was most enthusiastic when teaching in the clinic or from the extensive slide collection amassed from his own clinical experience.

Modest, sympathetic and with a quiet sense of humour, Harold was popular with patients and colleagues. A passionate reader, his knowledge and curiosity went far beyond medicine. In 1954 he married Sasha Morris, daughter of Noah Morris, regius professor of materia medica and therapeutics, Glasgow University, and herself a nuclear physician. They travelled widely together in retirement and enjoyed a happy family life with two daughters, two sons (a nephrologist and a GP) and nine grandchildren.

Robin Woolfson

[Brit med J 2008, 336, 565]

(Volume XII, page web)

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