Lives of the fellows

Philip Samuel Weston Wilkins

b.18 May 1925 d.15 February 2010
MB ChB Birm(1949) DCH(1954) MRCP(1960) FRCP(1974)

Philip Wilkins was a much respected physician at the Portsmouth hospitals, where he built up a first class department of geriatric medicine. This was valued even by those who were initially doubtful of geriatrics as a separate specialty.

He was born in Sheffield, the son of Victor Frederick Wilkins, an inspector of taxes, and Alice Cheetham née Donald. His schooling was at King Edward’s, Sheffield, and Bootham, York. At first he studied classics, and then sciences, going on to the Birmingham Medical School. His classical background was evident in his lectures and writings.

After medical appointments in Birmingham and Portsmouth, including a post as a senior hospital officer in geriatrics and general medicine, he was made a consultant in geriatric medicine in 1962. He had elderly patients in five hospitals, both in general and cottage hospitals. He supervised the conversion of King George’s Hospital, Liphook, from a sanatorium for tuberculous merchant seamen into an active geriatric unit, with rehabilitation facilities. He established day hospitals at both St Mary’s and Queen Alexandra district general hospitals.

From 1966 he was a part-time lecturer in medicine in the department of social work, Portsmouth Polytechnic. In 1970 he was a Winston Churchill travelling fellow, studying the care of the aged in Australia and New Zealand. In 1981 he spent a year as a visiting professor in geriatric medicine at the University of Newfoundland. He was an honorary clinical teacher at the new medical school at Southampton. In the 1970s he served as medical director of the Portsmouth Hospitals Group. From 1991 to 1992 he was chairman of the local British Medical Association.

When young he had poliomyelitis, which affected his walking all his life. He did not complain about his disabilities, and led an active, busy, life. He was a Quaker, and during the Second World War served in the Home Guard. He had a gentle nature, being kind, and always having time for other people. His interests were gardening, foreign travel and listening to music.

In 1951 he married Barbara née Booth. They had two sons and two daughters. Philip had much sadness in his life – his youngest child, Diana, died at the age of five, Barbara died of lymphoma in 1989, and their second son, Christopher, a consultant anaesthetist, died aged 48. However, in 1993, he married Rosemary née Parker, who nursed him in his last illness. He was a gentleman, with whom I had the privilege of working for 25 years.

M J Clarke-Williams

(Volume XII, page web)

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