Lives of the fellows

Norman Coulshed

b.9 January 1922 d.9 February 2009
MB BS Liverp(1945) MRCP(1951) MD(1956) FRCP(1971)

Norman Coulshed was a respected consultant cardiologist at Broadgreen Hospital, Liverpool, who helped lay the foundations of modern cardiology. He was a Lancastrian through and through. Born in Whitmore, near Rochdale, the son of William Coulshed, a schoolteacher, and Margaret née Howard, he was educated at the King George Vth Grammar School, Southport, where he was captain of rugby and cricket. He went on to study medicine at Liverpool and spent his entire medical career on Merseyside.

He obtained his MRCP in 1951 and in 1956 wrote an MD thesis on the anoxia test in the diagnosis of myocardial ischaemia, the first of many distinguished presentations to the British Cardiac Society and the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland.

He was a medical registrar at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary from 1952 to 1955, and then spent five years at Sefton General Hospital, as a senior medical registrar and then a senior cardiological registrar. In 1960 he was appointed as a consultant physician in cardiology at Sefton General Hospital. In 1982 he joined the newly-named regional cardiothoracic centre at Broadgreen Hospital.

With his colleague, Ellis Epstein, he set up the first coronary intensive care unit in England at Sefton. The duo became national pioneers in left heart catheterisation, phonocardiography and apex cardiography, which were the forerunners of modern echocardiograms. Their paper on the apex cardiogram in health and disease remains a model of its kind, demonstrating their understanding of the physiology and pathology of the heart [Br Heart J 1963 Nov; 25:697-708].

A superb teacher, his clinical skills were based on meticulous history taking and examination, his observations pithy and to the point, albeit in modern terms, not always politically correct, and recorded in a consistent legible hand.

He married Olive Bradbury in 1950 and they had three sons – one, David, is a cardiologist in Sydney, Australia, and a Fellow of the College. Norman and Olive lived in Woolton, in a home decorated with his meticulous watercolours and acrylics especially of the Lake District, where for many years they owned a cottage. Until diabetic peripheral neuropathy limited his mobility, he enjoyed watching cricket at Old Trafford and playing golf at Formby with a single figure handicap. He also espoused steam railways, which were the subject of his precise etchings.

Coulshed will be remembered by all his patients, students, juniors and medical colleagues as a sincere, thorough, caring, empathetic physician, who delivered expert cardiac care in a sympathetic manner with a keen sense of humour. At his funeral, the medical consensus was that Norman had been one of the best, brightest and outstanding physicians of his generation.

Chris Evans

(Volume XII, page web)

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