Lives of the fellows

Alistair Stewart McIntyre

b.4 July 1957 d.1 May 2011
BSc Lond(1978) MB BS (1981) MRCP(1985) MD(1990) FRCP(1997)

Alistair Stewart McIntyre was a consultant physician and gastroenterologist at Wycombe Hospital, Buckinghamshire. He was born in Twickenham, the son of Patrick Albert McIntyre, a retail buyer, and Jean Ellen McIntyre, a housewife, and educated at Hinchley Wood County Secondary School. He then went on to study medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. He qualified in 1981.

Alistair was a registrar at the London Hospital from 1984 to 1987, and then a registrar at St Mark’s Hospital, London. With David Thompson, he undertook research examining the effect of drugs on gastrointestinal transit, leading to a number of important publications and, in 1990, to the award of his MD. As part of his research, the nurses remember him endoscoping himself using the then new video endoscopes. They were always impressed by his ‘can do’ attitude.

After a senior registrar post in Nottingham (from 1989 to 1993), he went to Wycombe Hospital as a consultant physician and gastroenterologist. In 1997, he was asked to take on workforce planning for the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) and, in 2004, he became director of the manpower unit at the Royal College of Physicians, holding this post until he demitted office four years later. He left a lasting impression on all those he came in contact with in all medical specialties, the deaneries and the Department of Health. He was also chair of the BSG training committee. He was instrumental in developing and implementing the most recent gastroenterology curriculum, and was active in the assessment of medical trainees. To all of these roles he brought his abilities of intelligence, enthusiasm, charm, hard work and integrity. And he made sure he did not neglect his clinical responsibilities as a result of this other work.

Alistair was my registrar and a superb doctor, hard-working and conscientious. He was very supportive of others learning the ropes. This was true for both other juniors and, in those days, me – as I was then a relatively new consultant. Once, when we were at a cardiology update at the RCP, I expressed scepticism on being told that a sudden dose of a certain drug was wonderful at treating serious heart irregularities. Alistair informed me it worked well, and he had been using it on my patients for the past year! His advice, which I and others relied upon often, was always clear and well thought through. Trainees spoke of his gentle kindness, advice and charm, as well as his huge intellect. He never made anyone feel inferior and, in contrast, gave them confidence.

Alistair was a committed Christian, whose faith and belief shone out in his behaviour, but he never imposed his views on others. However, his MD thesis had some quotations of interest to gastroenterologists from the King James Bible: Genesis 43.30 – ‘And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought [where] to weep…’; Isaiah 16.11 – ‘Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh’; Job 30.27 – ‘My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me’. The language is very vivid and reflects Alistair’s dry sense of humour!

He enjoyed numerous hobbies outside medicine, including walking, climbing, cooking and badminton (on the day of his death, he had won three matches). He was a loving husband to Heather Elizabeth, a teacher, whom he married in 1983, and a proud, caring father to Kirsty, James and Ross. Alistair died of a subarachnoid haemorrhage aged just 53. We look back with gratitude to someone who lived a full and successful life, who enriched our lives, and who we were proud and privileged to have known as a colleague and friend.

Rodney Burnham

[Brit.med.J., 2011 343 4572]

(Volume XII, page web)

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