Lives of the fellows

Ronald Winston Brookfield

b.4 March 1902 d.1 April 1974
MB ChB Liverp(1923) DPH(1924) MD(1927) MRCS LRCP(1924) MRCP(1929) PhD(1932) FRCP(1944)

Ronald Brookfield was the son of Samuel Brookfield, an estate agent, and Annie, daughter of Benjamin Grimshaw, a farmer. He was born in Liverpool and educated at Park field School, Liverpool, and the University of Liverpool.

After qualifying, he held junior appointments in the Liverpool teaching hospitals from 1924 to 1929, and in the University was Samuels Memorial Scholar in Medicine from 1927 to 1929, and Johnston Colonial Fellow in Biochemistry from 1929 to 1932.

In 1929 he became Honorary Assistant Physician, and in 1945 Honorary Physician to the Royal Southern Hospital; in 1936 Honorary Assistant Physician, and in 1945 Honorary Physician to the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital; in 1945 Paediatrician to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital; and in 1949 Visiting Physician to Mossley Hill (Pensions) Hospital. In the University he was Lecturer in Therapeutics from 1931 to 1965, Lecturer in Clinical Medicine from 1946 to 1968, Lecturer in Clinical Paediatrics from 1947 to 1967, and First Assistant in the Department of Child Health from 1944 to 1967. He was the last Liverpool physician to hold consultant appointments both in general medicine and paediatrics.

He was a keen member of the Association of Physicians from 1935, and the British Paediatric Association from 1957.

From 1941 to 1945 Brookfield served in the RAMC, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, as Officer in Charge Medical Division in Nigeria with the 44th West African General Hospital; in Normandy with the 106th General Hospital; and in India with the 139th and 9th Indian Base General Hospitals and the 17th British General Hospital. Ronald’s work was meticulous, his mature and careful opinion much sought after by his colleagues, and his teaching greatly appreciated by his students. His friendly counsel did much to establish and maintain good relationships between the University Department of Child Health and the hospital staffs.

His special interests were reflected in his publications. His earlier papers dealt mainly with biochemical problems and included descriptions of work with Professor Blair Bell on blood changes during the course of treatment of malignant disease by lead (J. Path. Bact., 1928), and papers on calcium and magnesium in serum (Biochem. J., 1933 and 1934: Quart J. Med., 1937). Later, although he wrote widely on many disorders, he concerned himself especially with aspects of therapeutics, and from 1953 to 1961 contributed a chapter on ‘Recent Developments in Pharmacology and Therapeutics’ to the British Encyclopaedia of Medical Practice: Medical progress.

To the medical life of Liverpool as a whole he made a notable contribution. He was President of the Liverpool Medical Institution in 1962, and in 1949 the first Chairman of the Liverpool Paediatric Club, of which he was the Vice-President from 1971 to 1974. He served on the Board of Governors of the United Liverpool Hospitals from 1952 to 1964. In the University he was Chairman of the Faculty of Medicine in 1966, and from 1953 to 1974 represented Convocation on the University Court.

Ronald’s interests, other than medicine, included in his early years rugby football and the University OTC; and photography, philately and membership of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, of which he was President in 1966. Throughout his life, and directing all his activities, was his strong religious faith, which found expression in his commitment to his church and his association with the Evangelical Union, the Inter-Varsity Fellowship, the Christian Medical Fellowship (of which he was Northern Conference Secretary from 1951 to 1968) and the Samuel Smith Mission. A staunch Methodist, he gave help to all religious denominations; and, in India, on leave, he visited and gave support to the missionaries in those parts - contacts which he maintained for the rest of his life.

Helpfulness and understanding characterised all his personal relationships. His serene, grave countenance hid an astute assessment of his colleagues which was matched by a generous and often slightly amused tolerance of their foibles and shortcomings. For, although his faith moulded his own attitudes and activities, his humbleness of outlook left little room for criticism of others, and colleagues in need could always be sure of his sympathetic understanding. At the same time, he did not lack firmness in upholding what he believed to be right. By many, young and old, "Brookie" was held in high esteem and is remembered with affection. Late in life he married his former Ward Sister, who nursed and supported him throughout his long and distressing terminal illness.

ID Hay

[Brit.med.J., 1974, 2, 508; Lancet, 1974, 1, 944]

(Volume VI, page 66)

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