Lives of the fellows

Geoffrey Warren Hanks

b.19 February 1946 d.27 June 2013
BSc Lond(1967) MB BS(1970) MRCP(1973) Dip Pharm Med(1977) FRCP(1990) FFPM(1991) FRCP Edin(1991)

Geoffrey Hanks was professor of palliative medicine at the University of Bristol and a pioneer in the specialty. He was born in Bangalore, India, the son of Frederick Condict Hanks, an accountant, and Kate Hanks, a housewife. He was educated at Hackney Downs School in London and then went on to study medicine at University College Hospital Medical School, qualifying MB BS in 1970.

He was a house physician to Lord Rosenheim [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.394] at University College Hospital and then a senior house officer in neurology and general medicine at Nottingham General Hospital. From 1975 to 1979 he worked in the pharmaceutical industry. He was then appointed as a research fellow and an honorary senior registrar at the Oxford Regional Pain Unit and Sir Michael Sobell House, where he worked with Robert Twycross, a pioneer of hospice care.

In 1983 he was appointed as the first consultant in palliative medicine in the UK at the Royal Marsden Hospital (London and Sutton). He started a new clinical service at the Sutton branch of the hospital, developed the unit at Fulham Road and brought the two together as a single, effective service. His research at the Royal Marsden on modified-release morphine revolutionised cancer pain management.

He was subsequently appointed to the first chair in palliative medicine in Europe at the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals of the University of London.

In 1993 he went to Bristol to chair a new department created for his team, who all moved with him from London. At Bristol he helped develop a comprehensive research and teaching programme in palliative medicine for under- and postgraduates. He retired from his role in Bristol in 2006, but continued as an emeritus professor and as a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

He was editor-in-chief of the journal Palliative Medicine from 2001 to 2011, and was senior editor of four editions of the Oxford textbook of palliative medicine (Oxford, Oxford University Press), the first textbook of its kind.

He chaired the commissioning group for the NHS Cancer Research and Development Programme. He served on the board of the Macmillan Fund and chaired the professional advisory committee there from 1985 to 2001. On his retirement from the charity in 2001, he was awarded a gold medal by Macmillan.

He lectured in more than 40 countries. He was a member of the World Health Organization expert advisory panel on cancer, and was on the board of the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care. He was one of 42 founding members of the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC), which was established in 1988 in Milan. He chaired the scientific committees of the first congress in Paris in 1990 and was vice president (from 1989 to 1995), president (from 1995 to 1999) and then honorary president of the EAPC. He led a number of research groups within the organisation, and was the main author of the EAPC guidelines on morphine and opioids for cancer pain, published in 1996, 2001 and 2012.

He was survived by his wife, Joan Elizabeth Hanks, whom he married in 1968, and their son and daughter.

RCP editor

[The Bristol Post 8 August 2013 – accessed 12 April 2016; Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Obituaries Professor Geoffrey Warren Hanks – accessed 12 April 2016; Palliat Med September 2013 vol. 27 no. 8 703-704 – accessed 12 April 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

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