Lives of the fellows

Gerard Folliott (Sir) Vaughan

b.11 June 1923 d.29 July 2003
Kt(1984) MB BS Lond(1947) MRCP(1949) DPM(1952) FRCP(1966) FRCPsych(1972) Hon FRCS(1993)

Sir Gerard Vaughan was a Conservative Minister for Health in the Thatcher government, and a consultant psychiatrist. He was born in Xinavane, in Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique), the son of Leonard Vaughan, a sugar planter, who was killed in 1943 during the Second World War whilst serving as an RAF officer. His mother, Joan Elsie née Folliott, was the daughter of Walter Folliott, a merchant trader. He was educated privately at home, and then went to London, to Guy’s Hospital, to study medicine. He was unfit for war service due to a diagnosis of tuberculosis.

After qualifying, he became a house surgeon to Russell Brock [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.62] at Guy’s. He was later a neurological house physician and then a registrar at the York Clinic under Sir Charles Symonds [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.563]. He decided on a career in psychiatry and, from 1949 to 1952, went to the Maudsley to train, gaining his diploma in psychological medicine. He returned to Guy’s, where he was a senior registrar and then a senior medical officer.

In 1955, he became a consultant psychiatrist for court assessments at Wood Vale Reception Centre, Norwood, London. Three years later, he was appointed as physician in charge of the department of child psychiatry (the Bloomfield clinic) at Guy’s Hospital. He was particularly interested in the treatment of anorexia.

Outside medicine, he was active in politics from the 1950s. He sat on the London County Council, representing Streatham, becoming chairman of the strategic planning committee. In 1970, he was elected as an MP for Reading. He subsequently represented Reading South (1974 to 1983) and Reading East (1983 to 1997). Whilst the Tories were in opposition, he was founder and president of the Conservative Medical Society, with the aim of basing the NHS on total insurance cover rather than taxation. When Mrs Thatcher became party leader in 1975, he became her health spokesman, and when she became prime minister in 1979, he was appointed as a minister in the Department of Health and Social Security, initially under Patrick Jenkin and then under Norman Fowler. In 1982, Vaughan became consumer affairs minister. When he discovered that the chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Joan Ruddock, was also head of his local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), he threatened to halve the CAB’s government grant. The subsequent uproar forced Vaughan to retreat during an angry Parliamentary debate. He was dropped from the government shortly afterwards, in 1983, and received a knighthood in 1984.

In 1955, he married Thurle Joyce, the daughter of Basil Laver, a surgeon at Guy’s and subsequently in Northampton. They had one son, John, and one daughter, Belinda. Vaughan died after a long illness.

RCP editor

[The Times 4 August 2003; The Daily Telegraph 16 August 2003; The Independent 20 August 2003; Plarr’s Lives – accessed 30 November 2010;, 2003 327 452

(Volume XII, page web)

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