Lives of the fellows

Philip Lawrence Robinson

b.20 July 1920 d.27 June 2007
MB ChB Liverp(1942) MRCP(1948) MD(1949) FRCP(1972)

Philip Robinson was a consultant physician at Clatterbridge Hospital in the Wirral, Merseyside. As a consultant he helped establish one of the first geriatric medicine departments, training many doctors who developed an interest in the specialty. He was known for his wisdom, knowledge, intellect, helpfulness, politeness and communication skills.

Philip was born in Colwyn Bay, north Wales, the son of Henry Clifford Robinson, a dental surgeon, and Alice Elizabeth née Lawrence. He was educated nearby at Rydal School.

Following house jobs in Liverpool, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served mainly in troopships as a medical officer. He always claimed he had a distinctly undistinguished war record, despite collecting a collection of combat medals as he sailed to the various combat zones in his troopship. He ended the war with the rank of temporary major.

He returned to Liverpool at the end of the war and, following registrar training in that city, he was appointed consultant physician in general medicine at Clatterbridge Hospital, Bebington, in the Wirral peninsula.

At Clatterbridge he established and developed a department of geriatric medicine, one of the first modern departments for the care of the elderly in the north west of England. His views on how this care should be delivered were not without controversy. He believed that the acute care of the elderly should not be divorced from the rehabilitation and social aspects of older people’s management, and that this care should be combined with the practice of general medicine. He therefore practised for many years general acute medicine as well rehabilitation and continuing care for elderly patients. This comprehensive care had a most important offshoot. Junior doctors came to his department and found themselves doing geriatric medicine as well. A considerable number of them subsequently pursued a career in caring for the elderly. Other young doctors in other medical departments at the hospital were similarly influenced, notably the Gordon Mills [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.398], the second professor of geriatric medicine in Liverpool, and Jeremy Playfer, who was president of the British Geriatrics Society.

Philip was a clinical lecturer in geriatric medicine and vice-chairman of the Post Graduate Advisory Panel in Medicine at the Liverpool Medical School. He was also regional adviser for the College.

His pioneer work in developing services for the elderly was recognised when he was honoured with the award of the British Geriatrics Society 50th anniversary medal for outstanding services to his specialty. This award gave him special delight. He will be remembered by those who worked with him as a delightful colleague and a wonderfully knowledgeable and wise physician who helped many people in their careers.

Philip was a great conversationalist, with a wealth of knowledge in many subjects. He had little regard for material wealth and was content to spend his leisure time sailing, listening to good music and in later years he became an expert ornithologist. His friends will never forget his lectures on birds and his beautiful photographs taken during his long and happy retirement. He was happily married to Marjery Kathleen née Whitaker, who sadly died prematurely in 1978, and is survived by a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.

John Aitken

[Brit.med.J.,2008 336 223]

(Volume XII, page web)

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