Lives of the fellows

Victor Henry Springett

b.9 June 1917 d.1 February 2003
MRCS LRCP(1942) MB BS Lond(1943) MD(1949) MRCP(1955) FRCP(1964) FFCM(1974)

Victor Henry Springett was a consultant chest physician and medical director of the Birmingham Chest Clinic. He was born in Croydon, the son of Frank Witney Springett, a departmental manager, and Emma Elizabeth née Faulkner, the daughter of a hotelier. He attended Selhurst Grammar School, Croydon, and then studied medicine at King’s in London, winning the Warneford Scholarship in 1935. Whilst a medical student he developed pulmonary tuberculosis, which influenced his eventual choice of specialty and delayed his studies: he eventually qualified MRCS LRCP in 1942. He held house physician and house surgeon posts at King’s College Hospital.

Graded medically unfit for service, he was appointed as a clinical assistant at King’s College Hospital. He then became assistant Prophit scholar of the RCP, working with Marc Daniels. From 1946 to 1954 he was the Prophit scholar, studying minimal lesions found by mass miniature radiography, gaining his MD, with the university gold medal, in 1949. He was clinical assistant to C W L Jeanes at Greenwich Chest Clinic from 1950 to 1954. He gave the Milroy lecture in 1952.

In 1955, he was appointed as a consultant chest physician and medical director of the Birmingham Chest Service. He was also a part-time lecturer in tuberculosis in the department of social medicine at Birmingham Medical School. From 1963 to 1976, he was a consultant adviser in chest diseases to the chief medical officer at the Department of Health and Social Security. In 1971 he gave the Marc Daniels lecture at the RCP, on the results of the introduction of chemotherapy for tuberculosis, and received the Weber-Parkes prize in 1981. He joined the Tuberculosis Association in 1947, was a member of its research committee for many years, including a period as chairman. From 1970 to 1971 he was president of what was then the British Thoracic and Tuberculosis Association.

He retired from his Birmingham post in 1977, but continued his interest in the epidemiology of tuberculosis in England and Wales, particularly the influence of the BCG vaccination. Several of his published papers were written during his retirement.

At the time of his election to the fellowship of the RCP in 1964 he listed his interests as gardening and ‘family tennis’. In retirement he took up golf and, at the age of 73, started orienteering.

In 1943 he married Joan née West, the daughter of Percival Towers West, a chair maker, and one of the nurses who had cared for him while he was a patient at King’s before the Second World War. She died in 1992. They had two sons and a daughter. Their eldest son was killed in a car crash in the United States in 1998. In 1975, Mrs Springett created an embroidered coat of arms of the RCP, which was donated to the College.

RCP editor

[, 2003 326 934]

(Volume XII, page web)

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