Lives of the fellows

Jacob Mackinnon

b.1 July 1946 d.5 April 2005
BSc Lond(1966) MB BS(1970) MRCP(1973) FRCP(1997) FRCPCH(1997)

Jacob Mackinnon was a paediatrician in private practice in London. He was born in Brighton, the son of two artists, Hugh George Stuart Mackinnon and Betty née Butler. He was educated in East London, at Wanstead County High School, and would later boast of being an honorary Jew, as most of his school friends were Jewish. He went on to study medicine at St Bartholomew’s Medical School. He was bright and mature for his years, winning three prizes and a scholarship in biochemistry. His then newly-diagnosed Gaucher’s disease seemed to amuse him and he would exhibit his pingueculae, or the distinctive yellowish spots in his eyes, with pride.

He held a series of prestigious London training posts in paediatrics before taking up consultant posts at Sydenham Children’s Hospital and Farnborough Hospital, Bromley, in 1980. He showed an early interest in psychological matters and befriended David Morris [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IX, p.379], a paediatrician at ease with a psychological approach who helped him start in private practice. Ten years later he was persuaded to move into full-time private practice at 17 Wimpole Street where, together with Barry Lewis [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web], he forged a formidable clinical service for children while simultaneously working at the Portland Hospital for Women and Children.

His intellect, humour and energy made him a memorable chairman of the medical advisory committee at the Portland Hospital, curiously so since he disliked medical politics. He established a wide network of clinical colleagues through both clinical practice and golf. He will also be remembered for his charm and enthusiasm which found many outlets: medicine, wine, food, golf, travel, literature, poker and an intense, competitive amiability with friends from all branches of medicine. There is an annual commemorative golf competition in his name, organised by his colleagues at the Portland Hospital.

He loved France and worked in Paris as a trainee. Speaking fluent, Provencal-accented, French, he was able to both manage clinical cases and rebuild a house in Peyriac jointly with French colleagues and friends.

A consummate and charismatic clinician, very good indeed as a primary care paediatrician who could also spot rarities, he was much loved by his patients’ parents and would break convention to dine, drink and holiday with them. This never went wrong.

He loved good wine and could consume vast quantities, roaring with laughter, and a wicked conspiratorial sense of naughtiness or adventure was never far away. Indeed at 17 Wimpole Street, a bottle of wine was usually open, friends were always welcome and his father’s pictures filled the walls. It became a convivial centre for central London private paediatrics and a haven for child psychotherapy and psychiatry. Jake, with Barry, forged a model of solo paediatric private practice there which blended biomedical and psychological principles that may prove impossible to emulate.

He died from a dissecting aortic aneurysm. He was married to Elizabeth. They had a son and two daughters.

Peter Hill

(Volume XII, page web)

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