b.28 July 1951 d.13 April 2003
MB BCh Wales(1976) MRCP(1980) FRCP(1993)
Gerald Charles Joseph ‘Gerry’ Bennett, professor of health care for the elderly at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, did much to highlight the issue of elder abuse. He was born in London, the son of Ernest Hugh Clifford Bennett, a blade maker, and Marie-Madeleine Philomene née Flan, an office worker. He was educated at Whitton Secondary School and went on to study medicine at the Welsh National School of Medicine in Cardiff, qualifying in 1976.
He held junior posts in Cardiff, Newport and then Swansea. In 1978, he joined the junior registrar medical rotation at Bart’s, London. From 1980 to 1981 he was a registrar in geriatric medicine at St George’s Hospital, London, and was subsequently a lecturer and honorary senior registrar in geriatric medicine at St George’s Hospital Medical School.
In 1984, he became a consultant in the department of health care of the elderly at the London Hospital and, in 1995, was appointed medical director of Tower Hamlets Healthcare NHS Trust. After periods as a visiting professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden (1995) and at Queen’s University, Belfast, he became professor of health care for the elderly at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2000.
His research on pressure ulcers led to the opening in 1992 of the pioneering East London Wound Healing Unit, a four-bed interdisciplinary unit combining the skills of clinical nurse specialists, dermatologists, vascular surgeons, chiropodists and social workers.
He was a founder member of the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Board and the founder chairman and later president of Action on Elder Abuse. He helped establish the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), and was the main researcher for a WHO project on elder abuse in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, India, Kenya, Lebanon and Sweden. The findings were published by WHO/INPEA as Missing voices: views of older persons on elder abuse (Geneva, World Health Organization, 2002).
Throughout his career he wrote, edited and co-authored books, readers and articles on care of the elderly, elder abuse and Alzheimer’s disease and wound care.
He died from cancer and was survived by his lifelong companion, Hywel, and his partner, Tom. A ward at the Royal London Hospital has been named in his honour.
[The Guardian 26 May 2003; Brit.med.J., 2003 326 1270; International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse www.inpea.net/memorials.html – accessed 14 June 2010]
(Volume XII, page web)
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