Lives of the fellows

Ephraim David Bennett

b.19 August 1938 d.21 February 2012
MB BS London(1963) MRCP(1970) FRCP(1982)

Ephraim David Bennett was professor of intensive care medicine at St George’s Hospital, London. For most of his career he struggled to see his particular specialty achieve the status that he felt it deserved. Born in London, he was the son of Jack Bennett, a sales manager. After attending Highgate School, he studied medicine at London University and the Middlesex Hospital and qualified in 1963. He spent a year as a research fellow at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and from 1965 to 1966 he did house jobs at the Middlesex.

After a becoming a senior registrar at Charing Cross Hospital and at the National Heart Hospital, he moved to St Georges as a lecturer, then senior lecturer, in medicine. From 1974 he was director of the hospital’s small intensive care unit and set out to convince the medical world that intensive care was a serious specialty and not just a subsection of anaesthetics. It was a hard battle, but in 1997 he was appointed professor of intensive care medicine at St Georges’s.

A prolific author he published numerous papers on cardiovascular medicine. He was a keen researcher who worked on new ways of measuring blood flow and tried hard to spread the message that better monitoring produced better care. A vociferous advocate of perioperative haemodynamic stabilisation, he published ‘A randomized clinical trial of the effect of deliberate perioperative increase of oxygen delivery on mortality in high-risk surgical patients’ with O Boyd and RM Grounds (JAMA, 1993, 270, 2699-707). The study showed that an increase in oxygen delivery was indeed effective in reducing mortality and morbidity, but he had a struggle to get the idea accepted. Another innovation was his successful use of a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor to treat septic shock in a patient.

An enthusiastic supporter of the NHS, he eschewed private practice and was not afraid to approach the media when he felt that patents were suffering – for example when there was a shortage of intensive care beds in the winter of 1999.

Outside of medicine, he was a keen photographer.

In 1967 he married Lee née Metcalfe, the daughter of Robert, who was an oil executive. When he died in the intensive care unit at Guy’s Hospital, he was survived by Lee and their daughter.

RCP editor

[Lancet 2012 379 1294 – accessed 5 October 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

<< Back to List