Lives of the fellows

Philip Cecil Holland

b.4 May 1948 d.20 June 2014
BSc Lond(1970) MB BS(1973) MRCP UK(1979) FRCP(1994)

Philip Holland was a consultant paediatrician in Leeds. Born in Norwich to company executive Eric John Holland and his wife Audrey Margaret Holland, Philip attended Gresham’s School. A job as an assistant game warden in Zambia established his lifelong love of travel and adventure before he went on to enter medical school at University College London, together with Tony, his identical twin.

After qualifying in medicine, he held training posts in London, Liverpool and New Zealand. On returning to the UK, Philip took up a post as a senior house officer in paediatrics at Worcester Royal Infirmary, where he met his future wife Jenny, a radiographer. Further overseas experience in adult medicine included work in Tasmania and Sydney, but a realisation that his heart lay in paediatrics brought him and Jenny back to England, and training posts at both the Hammersmith and Great Ormond Street hospitals. Philip then became a senior registrar at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where he completed postgraduate training, and also developed what was to be a lifelong interest in bone health, resulting in one of his key publications (‘Prenatal deficiency of phosphate, phosphate supplementation, and rickets in very-low-birthweight infants.’ Lancet. 1990 Mar 24;335[8691]:697-701).

Born the same year as the NHS itself came into being, he remained fiercely loyal to the principle of universal healthcare as a collective responsibility. Outwardly quiet and unassuming, he had a compelling desire to improve both services for patients and training for junior doctors, finding ample opportunity for both once appointed as a consultant paediatrician to the General Infirmary at Leeds in 1989. By this time his family had grown to include five children – Olivia, Genevieve, Benedict, Dominique and Madeleine. Philip was instrumental in developing not only general paediatrics, but also a string of specialist services, including regional intensive care, an integrated multidisciplinary clinic for children with enuresis, a bone health service, a clinic for patients with neurofibromatosis, and a prize-winning diabetes team that won two national awards and was runner up in the 2013 British Medical Journal team awards.

As secretary of the Paediatric Intensive Care Society steering group, Philip was crucial to the early development of a national database of paediatric intensive care activity, PICANet. (The PICANet 2014 annual report, summarising a decade of data collation, was dedicated to Philip.) Diabetes remained one of his major areas of interest and, with the help of his secretary Kate Barker, colleagues in the children’s diabetes centre, and the company MyKnowledgeMap, he devised Upbete (, an innovative website for young people with type one diabetes. Upbete won wide recognition when it received the Medipex-NHS Innovation award in 2012. Philip became the first chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Paediatric Diabetes Network and was instrumental in introducing peer review in the field of diabetes for children and young people. Stimulated by day to day work with patients, he often formulated challenging research questions that subsequently led to publications not only in the field of diabetes, but also in infectious disease, neurology, bone health, urology and obesity. His last paper just before he retired reported the novel finding of bladder aquaporins (‘Expression and localisation of aquaporin water channels in human urothelium in situ and in vitro.’ Eur Urol. 2009 Dec;56[6]:1013-23).

As secretary and then chairman of the child health committee at the Infirmary, Philip provided a guiding hand to the paediatric department with patience and good humour, showing only occasional irritation when much needed developments seemed to be progressing too slowly. He was known as an outstanding clinician and teacher with a great enthusiasm for paediatrics, for his extensive knowledge and for his great kindness. Passionate about the education of junior doctors, Philip took on time-consuming leadership roles including the setting up of the highly successful ‘Yorkshire School of Paediatrics’, providing high quality training to junior doctors in the region.

Devoted to his family, in their spare time he and Jenny enjoyed activities including walking, camping, travelling, reading, music, opera, tango and ceilidh dancing. He will be remembered by the many families for whom he cared as a quiet, wise and thoughtful doctor who listened to parents, determined to do the best by their children, addressed their anxieties, inspired their confidence and offered them hope and reassurance.

John Puntis

[PICANet: A Decade of Data – accessed 20 December 2015; BMJ 2014 349 5527 – accessed 20 December 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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