Lives of the fellows

Morgan Brian Stuart Jones

b.11 December 1935 d.11 June 2012
BA Cantab(1959) BChir(1962) MB(1963) MRCP(1967) FRCP(1981)

Morgan Brian Stuart Jones was a consultant physician and cardiologist at Gloucester Royal Hospital. He was inordinately proud of being Welsh. He was born in Swansea and, because his father, William Arthur Jones, was a bank manager, and the family moved from place to place, he lived in many different Welsh towns as a youngster. When he was a child his parents spoke to each other in Welsh, but neither he nor his sister were able to learn enough to join in. Despite never being fluent in the language, he was able to memorise poetry as a child with sufficient ability that he won prizes for singing and recitation at the annual eisteddfods. When the family settled in Aberystwyth, he attended the Ardwyn Grammar School and, after completing his ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels at the early age of 16, he became a boarder at Llandovery College, 50 miles to the south east and, whilst there, succeeded in getting a state scholarship.

Before going to university, he did two years of National Service in the Royal Air Force. On joining up, he specifically asked if he could go abroad, for he had never lived outside Wales. They duly obliged – by sending him to Devon for the whole of his period of service. Clearly somebody in the Air Ministry had a strange idea about what constituted ‘abroad’ for a Welshman! Whilst in the Air Force he served as a medical orderly, caring for troops returning from the war in Cyprus, and he also taught airmen human biology. Several passed ‘O’ level examinations as a result of his teaching.

He graduated in medicine in 1963, having studied at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and St Mary’s Hospital in London. His house jobs were in Portsmouth and Bedford, and he was then a senior house officer in medicine at Hither Green Hospital in south east London.

From 1965 to 1968 he was a registrar in medicine, also at Hither Green, and during the tenure of this post he obtained his MRCP (in July 1967). Four months later, on Guy Fawkes’ night, the 7.43 pm train from Hastings to Charing Cross, travelling at 70 miles per hour, struck a fractured railway line near Hither Green and 11 of the 12 coaches were derailed and ended up on their sides. Forty nine people died and 78 were injured. Brian and his team from the local hospital were the first on the scene, and he spent much of the night crawling underneath and through the shattered coaches, attempting to help the injured and doing what he could for those who subsequently died. He gave analgesics to some of the injured people, put up drips on others, and helped to rescue many of those who were suffering from dreadful injuries. The mayor of nearby Lewisham said that night: ‘Whatever good is said about these people who are doing so much for the injured and the shock is deserved. Not enough praise can be bestowed upon them.’ One of those rescuers was Brian. He rarely spoke of this episode in later life, but he did occasionally admit that this harrowing experience gave him nightmares for many years afterwards.

From 1968 to 1970 he was a registrar on the professorial medical unit at St Mary’s and, from 1970 to 1972, a Wellcome Trust research fellow, also at St Mary’s, when he concentrated on the role of the renal renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and also studied the effectiveness and safety of the newly introduced antiarrhythmic drug disopyramide. His last posts, before becoming a consultant, were as a senior registrar in cardiology, first at Edgware General Hospital and then at St Mary’s.

He was appointed as a consultant at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in 1975 and was the first physician at the hospital to have a special interest in cardiology written into his job description. After almost 20 years in this post he was joined by a colleague, who did pure cardiology, but no general medicine. When Brian retired in 1997 a further cardiologist was appointed. For two decades Brian effectively occupied an intermediate position between the general physicians who preceded him and the specialist cardiologists who followed. That 20-year period marked an important transition in the delivery of specialist care, following the demise of the generalist – which many people regret.

Brian was a seriously good general physician, whose diagnostic skills were much in demand at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and at the smaller hospitals in Stroud and Lydney, which he also attended. His diagnostic acumen was highly regarded, and he was a very good second opinion on general medical disorders.

As a cardiologist he was not an ‘interventionist’, as they are called nowadays (although he did put in temporary pacemakers); instead he organised services, such as a coronary care unit, cardiac rehabilitation, 24-hour and ambulatory ECG monitoring, and services for family doctors involving ECG interpretation, as well as teaching sessions on how to read ECGs. He also set up and encouraged the development of a cardiology trust fund.

He was an enthusiastic teacher and was much admired by his junior staff, who remained in contact with him long after they had moved on in their careers. Many of his junior doctors attended his funeral.

He had a contented family life. In 1971 he married Ann Pomeroy, a dermatologist. They had two daughters and three grandchildren. Socially, he did tend to live life to the full on occasions, which made him a constant source of delight to his many friends. In retirement he enjoyed socialising, as well as travelling, bridge playing and solving cryptic crosswords (at which he was rather good). He was a lovely man, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

David L Stevens

[Lewisham Borough News 9 November 1967; Gloucester Citizen 25 June 2012; Brit.med.J., 2012 345 5685]

(Volume XII, page web)

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