Lives of the fellows

Robin Trevor Pinto

b.20 October 1939 d.25 April 2008
MB BS Jabalpur(1963) MRCP Glasgow(1966) LMSSA(1967) MRCP(1967) MPhil London(1971) MRCPsych(1972) FRCPsych(1984) FRCP(1989)

Robin Trevor Pinto was a consultant psychiatrist at the Bedfordshire and Luton partnership trust. He was born and raised in Jabalpur, India, where his father, Stanislaus Pinto, was an army doctor and his mother, Madge, a professor of English. He inherited his love of books from his mother and an early reading of A J Cronin’s The Citadel inspired him to pursue a career in medicine, ultimately in Britain.

He arrived in the UK in 1965 full of self confidence, after a glittering student career at medical school in Jabalpur. The initial idea had been that he study for his medical membership, while his wife worked as a nursery school teacher, but on the boat over Raynah conceived the first of their three children. He ended up studying for and passing his membership while living in single room hospital accommodation in Wigan with two screaming toddlers.

Flirting briefly with a career in cardiology, he found his passion and niche in psychiatry, undergoing specialist training at the Maudsley. His research into patients of ethnic origin with schizophrenia was rewarded with his MPhil. He chose a consultant post in Luton as one of the few psychiatric posts attached to a district general hospital and remained adamant that psychiatry was a medical specialty. He was always a general psychiatrist, but developed an expertise in prison and forensic work, as well as eating disorders and the treatment of phobias.

His work ethic was recognised by his colleagues with respect and awe. As a sector psychiatrist he had the largest patient catchment area in the country. After major burns in 1986 he returned to work after three days, his hands still in plastic bags to catch dripping serum.

He reluctantly took on the role of first medical director to the trust, which he typically fulfilled to an exemplary standard, but in recent years was frustrated at changes in service provision, which he felt were counter to patient care. (He retained the old consultant contract out of principle, one ironic reason was that it would allow him to work into old age.) Later he enjoyed a role within the Criminal Injury Compensation Board, where he jousted with the prime minister’s wife, Cherie Blair, in her barrister role and was rewarded with an invitation to Downing Street to share his views.

Robin was never one for educational theory. He scoffed at the idea of appraisal, yet he was an inspirational teacher, his junior posts sought after for the experience and commitment shown.

He was always supremely confident in his ability. At the age of 64 he persuaded a challenging patient in a secure unit to accept treatment by beating him in a game of badminton. The patient, a county player himself, had no idea Robin was previously a junior state champion and national badminton finalist in India.

Robin died unexpectedly from a myocardial infarction while on holiday in Rome. He leaves his wife, Raynah, to whom he was completely devoted, two sons and a daughter. After his death, his psychiatric unit was renamed ‘the Robin Pinto unit’ in recognition of his contribution to patient care.

Sunil Pinto

[,2007,338, 2136]

(Volume XII, page web)

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