Lives of the fellows

David Mercer

b.20 April 1930 d.10 April 2013
MB ChB Sheffield(1958) MRCS LRCP(1958) MRCP(1965) FRCP(1986)

David Mercer was a consultant physician in geriatric medicine in Plymouth. He was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, the son of Harold Mercer, a hospital engineer, and Jessie Mercer, a housewife and part-time medical secretary. He was educated at St Albans School. From 1948 to 1951 he served in the RAF for his National Service. He then went to Sheffield University, where he studied medicine.

He qualified in 1958 and was a house officer to the professor of medicine, Sir Charles Stuart-Harris [Munk’s Roll, Vol.X p.477] at the Royal Hospital, Sheffield. From 1959 to 1960 he was a senior house officer at Ipswich Hospital, and he then spent two years as a medical registrar at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. From 1962 to 1965 he was a medical registrar in Bath. He then trained in geriatrics with John Agate [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.3] at Ipswich, and was a senior registrar in geriatric medicine in Manchester.

In 1967 he was appointed to his consultant post in Plymouth, a time when geriatric medicine was a poorly considered specialty. He epitomised the passion and dedication to patients that remain the hallmarks of geriatrics. He was known for his default position of stopping all medication on referred patients, which was usually followed by their instant recovery, and for his attention to the basics of their daily living. Forthright and uncompromising on standards, he eventually won the respect even of those who opposed his views, and can be said to have founded modern elderly care in Plymouth.

Outside medicine, he loved sailing and music, and would never miss sailing on Wednesday evenings or piano lessons on Saturdays.

After he retired, David was involved with local conservation work, and found a second career with the elderly as a long-serving and dedicated trustee of Plymouth Age Concern (now Age UK Plymouth), where he again used his skills in the care and knowledge of older persons' needs to build a major charity. In recognition of his contribution to the specialty, he was awarded the silver medal of the British Geriatrics Society.

David was survived by his wife Jenifer Anne (‘Jenny’) – a nurse he had met, appropriately, over a surgical consultation – and their children, James, Kathryn and Nicola, and four grandchildren.

Jim Copper

[Brit.med.J., 2013 347 4857]

(Volume XII, page web)

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