Lives of the fellows

Alan James Goble

b.5 July 1925 d.27 July 2012
OA(2012) MB BS Melb(1948) MD(1952) MRACP(1952) MRCP(1954) FRACP(1963) FRCP(1977)

Alan James Goble was director of cardiac services at Austin Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. A pioneer in the field, he was the first Australian cardiologist to appreciate the vital importance of cardiac rehabilitation programmes and to stress that they should be properly funded. Born in Folkestone, Kent, he was the second of the three sons of Air Vice-Marshall Stanley James Goble and his wife, Kathleen Doris Letitia née Wodehouse. His father was one of the founders of the RAAF. Educated at Trinity Grammar School in Kew, he studied medicine at Trinity College, Melbourne University and the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

After qualifying in 1948, he did house jobs at the Alfred until 1951. Returning to the UK in 1953, he was appointed a house physician at the Brompton Hospital before moving to the National Heart Hospital the following year and gaining his MRCP.

When he went back to Australia, he started to specialise in cardiology and began work at the cardiac clinic of the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) in 1956. Two years later he became physician to outpatients and, in 1961, was appointed honorary cardiologist at the RMH, the first such post in a major public hospital. In 1976 he moved to the Austin Hospital, where he was director of cardiac services. In this role, he initiated a cardiac rehabilitation programme (in conjunction with the physiotherapy department) that was regarded as a model for similar services in Australia and attracted international interest.

From the early 1960s onwards he worked with the National Heart Foundation of Australia (NHF) on the care of heart attack victims. He eventually set up an offshoot of the NHF- the Heart Research Centre - as a stand-alone organisation in 1993. Prior to his research, cardiac patients were not encouraged to resume normal activities, but he showed that there were health and psychological benefits to be gained from encouraging them to return to work. Building on this he published, with Marian C Worcester the director of the Heart Research Centre, Best practice guidelines for cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention (Victoria, Department of Human Services, 1999.

On the council, and subsequently president, of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, he was the first to be awarded the distinguished service award of the Australian Cardiovascular Health and Rehabilitation Association. Internationally, he was on various World Health Organisation’s bodies and a member of the scientific board of the International Society of Cardiology.

Outside medicine, he enjoyed breeding cattle.

In 1950 he married Patricia née Johnston whose father, Robert Alexander, was a farmer. They divorced in 1968. He was survived by his children, David and Anne and his brothers John and Jim.

RCP editor

[Sydney Morning Herald www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/doctor-pioneered-full-rehabilitation-of-heart-attack-patients-20120828-24ymc.html; The Peerage www.thepeerage.com/p34276.htm - both accessed 5 October 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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