Lives of the fellows

Andrew Lavery Trevor Blair

b.19 May 1948 d.29 June 2009
MB BCh BAO Belf(1972) DObst RCOG(1974) DCH(1974) MRCP(1976) MD(1981) FRCP Edin(1989) FRCP(1992) FRCPI(1997)

Trevor Blair was a consultant physician at Tyrone County Hospital, Omagh, Northern Ireland. He was born and bred in Ballyclare and attended Ballyclare High School, before studying medicine at Queen’s University Belfast. During his early career he achieved diplomas in child health, and in obstetrics and gynaecology, but concentrated on internal medicine and, especially, diabetes and endocrinology, training at the regional centre for diabetes and endocrinology at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. His research during this period generated the material for his MD thesis, on intensive dietary intervention in maturity onset diabetes, and he also published work on the long-term outcome of radioactive iodine treatment of hyperthyroidism.

In 1981, Trevor left Belfast to take up his post as consultant physician in Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh. The role of a rural physician in Northern Ireland at that stage was very different from today. Trevor worked every second night and weekend, taking responsibility for all comers in every age group, from neonates to the elderly, without middle grade support. The appointment of a physician/geriatrician in 1986 helped to ameliorate the situation, but the intensity of clinical work persisted and it was not until the mid 1990s that the rota improved to 1:4 (and, ultimately, 1:5) and that sick children were diverted to a new dedicated paediatrics service in neighbouring Enniskillen. Furthermore, these duties were performed against a background of enormous and sustained organisational change.

Despite this pressure, Trevor was able to continue to develop his interests in cardiovascular medicine and, particularly, diabetes. His style as a physician was understated: he was never seen in the clinical arena unless dressed in a pristine starched and fully buttoned white coat, delivering his insights as quiet asides. He did however possess a major intellect, sharp analytical skills and a mischievous wit, and inspired intense loyalty among his multidisciplinary team.

These qualities, allied to an uncompromising tenacity of purpose, enabled him to lead the successful promotion of excellence in care for adults and children with diabetes in County Tyrone. He was instrumental in the appointment of the first diabetes liaison nurse specialist in the western part of Northern Ireland and, in 2002, to his great pride, he saw the opening of the new diabetes resource centre on the Tyrone County site. This dedicated purpose-designed unit provided an integrated multidisciplinary environment for the holistic management of diabetes and is recognised as the model for delivery of diabetes care on other sites in the Western Trust.

Trevor continued to contribute to epidemiological research in diabetes and played a leading role in the local implementation of the ‘DIAMOND’ clinical information system. Later in his career, he fulfilled the role of clinical director of medicine in Sperrin and Lakeland Trust. Although not one for lengthy committee meetings, he used his analytical abilities to cut through red tape to attain effective solutions, and his quiet irony frequently subverted overly intrusive political correctness or galloping bureaucracy, to devastating effect. He contributed actively to RCP business throughout his career and regularly examined for membership of the London, Edinburgh and Irish colleges.

Despite the demands of his work, he found time for many outside interests. He loved music and languages, and studied Spanish, French and Irish. He especially enjoyed wildlife and outdoor pursuits, and his interest in horses led him to serve on the Medical Equestrian Association. Trevor was an unassuming, caring man and is greatly missed by his family, colleagues, friends and patients. He is survived by his wife Joan and daughters Gillian, Helen and Andrea.

Peter Garrett
Edmund Hodkinson

[The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh – accessed 4 January 2011]

(Volume XII, page web)

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