Lives of the fellows

Ronald Ian Meanock

b.30 June 1919 d.4 December 2009
MB BS Lond(1944) MRCS LRCP(1944) MD(1948) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1969)

Ronald Ian Meanock was a consultant rheumatologist to the Reading hospitals. He was born in Whitchurch, the son of Herbert Meanock, an insurance manager. He was educated at Epsom College, and then went on to Middlesex Hospital to study medicine, qualifying in 1944. He was conscripted into the RAF towards the end of the Second World War, and served at hospitals in Ely and Wroughton.

Following his demobilisation, he started training in cardiology. However, due to poor job prospects at that time, he side-stepped into a career in rheumatology and took up a senior registrar post in the specialty at the Hammersmith Hospital, working with Eric Bywaters [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.86] and Barbara Ansell [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.23].

At Reading he took a leading role in the establishment of the rheumatology department. There had previously been a physiotherapy clinic for patients with chronic rheumatism at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, but with Ian’s appointment in 1954 as a consultant rheumatologist with an emphasis on rehabilitation, the department began to take on a more modern form. Initially five medical beds were made available at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, but later a ward became available at Prospect Park Hospital, which was the first real base of the rheumatology department. Ian covered the whole of west Berkshire single-handedly at that time, providing rehabilitation services for patients with rheumatic disease, polio and neurological disease.

Due to the paucity of proven, effective disease-modifying drugs for inflammatory joint disease, rheumatology was then a rehabilitation-based specialty, but Ian recognised that this would not always be the case and worked to ally the department with the acute medical unit in Reading. In 1955 the unit moved to the acute Battle Hospital. Ian’s tireless efforts to raise money for a hydrotherapy pool finally culminated in the opening of the pool at Battle in 1977. Ian continued as a force in the Reading hospitals, responsible for both rheumatology and rehabilitation, until the appointment of a consultant in rehabilitation medicine in 1983. He retired in 1984.

As well as his dynamic role in the development of rheumatology and rehabilitation services in Reading, Ian was a key figure in postgraduate medical training. In 1962 he became the first area postgraduate clinic tutor at the Royal Berkshire and Battle hospitals. He held this position for almost eight years, retiring as postgraduate clinical tutor in 1970. He was largely responsible for raising funds for the postgraduate medical centre at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

Ian was an outstanding clinician. The quality of his work lives on in his notes and letters in the files of patients nearly 25 years after his retirement. Not only was he a leading light in rheumatology at the Royal Berkshire and Battle hospitals, but he was also one of the most dynamic consultant physicians of his time in Reading. His legacy lives on in the rheumatology department, which in 2003 returned to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where Ian Meanock originally founded it 50 years previously.

In 1946 he married Pat née Mann, a Middlesex nurse and staff midwife, who died in January 2009. Ian died after a short illness, due to a rapidly progressive interstitial lung disease. He leaves two children and seven grandchildren.

Anthony Bradlow
Colin Meanock

(Volume XII, page web)

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