Lives of the fellows

Patrick Hocart Tooley

b.24 May 1912 d.5 June 1991
MRCS LRCP(1936) MB BS Lond(1937) DPM(1942) MD(1946) MRCP(1947) FRCP(1964)

Patrick Tooley was born in Guernsey, Channel Islands. His father was killed in the first world war and Patrick, at the tender age of seven, was sent as a boarder to Mill Hill School, London, where he remained until he went up to The London Hospital medical school. Both at school and at The London, Tooley distinguished himself as a sportsman. As a medical student he captained The London’s rugby and cricket teams and won a county cap for hockey. Like so many of his generation his career was interrupted by the outbreak of the second world war. He joined the RNVR and served in the Royal Navy Patrol Service and it seems evident that it was his experience in the Navy which sparked his interest in psychiatry; it was during his service in the Navy that he began his formal training in psychiatry, obtaining his DPM in 1942.

In 1946 he was awarded the MD for his thesis ‘Psychiatry in the Royal Naval Patrol Service’. After demobilization he spent a year in the United States as visiting professor at Bowmans Grey Medical School in North Carolina. He gained his membership of the College in 1947 and was elected a Fellow in 1964. When the Royal College of Psychiatrists was founded in 1971 he was elected a foundation fellow. On his return to The London the department of psychiatry was still an integral part of the department of neurology, but psychiatry was soon to be considered sufficiently ‘respectable’ to merit independence.

Tooley, still a comparatively young man, was the first to be appointed a consultant in the new discipline. He very soon realized that the unit allocated to him at The London was inadequate to meet the psychiatric needs of its catchment area and, in order to make good the deficit, he established a unit at the neighbouring St Clement’s Hospital which became his operational base. In mid-career he developed an interest in forensic psychiatry, at a time when specialists in this field were thin on the ground. In due course he was appointed senior lecturer in the department of forensic medicine in the University of London, probably one of the earliest psychiatrists to be so honoured. In his day, Tooley was justifiably recognized as the doyen of British forensic psychiatrists.

Patrick Tooley was an excellent clinician and his opinion was widely sought. In addition, he was a popular and effective teacher who will be remembered by his students, both medical and nursing, for his instructive and yet amusing presentations. His contemporaries afforded him the ultimate accolade by describing him as ‘a notably sane psychiatrist’. When he retired in 1976 the gathering to mark the event was the largest of its kind that The Londoners can remember - a true gauge of his popularity. He also found time to interest himself in the affairs of the Medical Protection Society, of which he became treasurer, a position he continued to hold after his retirement from practice. It is recalled, with doubtful satisfaction in some quarters, that the first thing he did after taking office was to double the subscription.

Patrick Tooley was married three times. His first wife, Brenda, died in 1939 after giving birth to his son Peter, who also studied medicine at The London medical school and is now senior medical adviser to Janssen Pharmaceutical. During the war he married his second wife, Joan, by whom he had three children - Patricia, and twins Jessica and Jonathan. This marriage ended in divorce and he subsequently married Diane, née Davis.

After retirement, he returned to his roots in Guernsey, the only place where he felt really at home. It is a bitter irony that, for one who had spent his professional life in the field of mental health, he was to end his days as a victim of one of the most devastating of all mental illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease. His last blank years were only made tolerable by the unsparing devotion of his wife Diane.

H R Rollin

[Brit.med.J., 1991,303,642]

(Volume IX, page 525)

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