Lives of the fellows

Philip Warner Robertson

b.6 November 1923 d.27 September 2008
MB ChB Liverp(1945) MRCP(1949) MD(1950) FRCP(1966) DMRD(1968)

Philip Warner Robertson, known as ‘Pip’, had two careers – first as a consultant physician in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and then as a consultant radiologist at East Birmingham Hospital. He was born in West Bromwich, the son of James Alick Robertson, an industrial chemist, and Jane Millington née Warner, and studied medicine at Liverpool University. He held junior posts at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary, and from 1947 to 1948 was medical registrar and then RMO to Lord Cohen [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.106].

In 1948 he joined the medical service of the RAF. While in the RAF Pip developed a special interest in hypertension in young recruits, whom he investigated in detail, including angiography performed personally. With colleagues he identified a previously unrecognised renin-secreting renal tumour, a haemangiopericytoma, which was reported in the American Journal of Medicine (AmJ Med 1967 Dec; 43(6): 963-76). He held strong opinions on the causation of raised blood pressure, which occasionally brought him into conflict with senior figures in medicine.

After 20 years’ service, Pip resigned from the RAF and was recruited to the East Birmingham Hospital as a consultant physician with duties in the X-ray department. At this stage in his career he had no qualifications in radiology; however, he soon passed the diploma in medical radiodiagnosis (DMRD) examination (top of the class) and was appointed as a consultant radiologist. The hospital was expanding rapidly at the time and Pip played a major role in the development of the X-ray service, becoming director of radiology. For some years he was also chairman of the hospital’s medical staff committee, at a time when the hospital was developing rapidly from a fever hospital into a major district general hospital.

He trained numerous registrars and followed their careers with interest, maintaining contact with them, as he did with a succession of radiographers and secretaries.

He had a wide circle of friends, and was always ready and willing to assist anyone with problems. A man of strong convictions, he was a committed socialist (an avid Guardian reader) and an agnostic/atheist. He was married twice. In 1948 he married Hilary Fairbairn née Robison and they had a daughter and two sons. His second wife was June Elizabeth.

Alasdair Geddes

[Brit.med.J.,2008 337 2251]

(Volume XII, page web)

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