Lives of the fellows

Paul Haydon Rogers

b.14 September 1919 d.11 February 2016
MB BChir Cantab(1943) MRCP(1948) DPM(1955) MRCPsych(1972) FRCP(1973) FRCPsych(1974)

Paul Haydon Rogers was a consultant psychiatrist and medical director at St Crispin Hospital, Northampton. From a very early age he wanted to be a doctor and in due course his very realistic ambition was to become a consultant physician. Unfortunately, because of the bottle neck effect created by doctors returning from the armed forces after the Second World War, there was ferocious competition for promotion. Instead of persevering, he retrained as a psychiatrist, however, he remained a physician at heart, adopting a medical approach and placing great emphasis on diagnosis and the use of physical methods of treatment. He was insistent that he did not do psychotherapy, but the great paradox was that he had all the personal qualities of an excellent psychotherapist including empathy, non-possessive warmth, genuineness and a supportive, non-judgmental approach.

He was born in Cardiff, the son of John Phillip Rogers, a Congregationalist minister, and Margaret Winter Rogers née Haydon. After Caterham School and Christ’s College, Cambridge, he qualified in 1943 at the London Hospital. Shortly afterwards he served as a captain in the RAMC in Normandy, Egypt and Palestine. In 1947, he returned to the medical unit at the London Hospital, but later switched to psychiatry and, after training at the Maudsley Hospital, was appointed in 1955 as a consultant psychiatrist to St Crispin Hospital, Northampton. He later became the medical director there. At St Crispin he introduced new treatments, particularly psychotropic drugs and established community-based services. He started child guidance clinics and was also involved in the planning of Princess Marina Hospital for people with learning difficulties.

Paul had the qualities of an English gentleman, he was modest, unassuming, understated and unpushy, but at heart he had the attributes of Welsh nonconformity and liberalism, reflecting his deep roots in west Wales. Basic Christian values guided his life and he had no regard for social class. The Guardian was his newspaper and he espoused its core values. He was a consummate professional dedicated to his work and the NHS. He had no time for private practice or medical politics. His focus was the care and management of his patients: they loved him and on the rare occasions I took his clinic their disappointment was palpable.

After retirement from the NHS, he worked with the Health Advisory Service and as a member of the Mental Health Review Tribunals dealing with difficult issues at the special hospitals – Broadmoor and Rampton. In Northampton he pioneered the recognition of stress at work and helped to create a local charity to advise employers and to provide counselling for employees.

He was devoted to his family and only looked for the good in everyone. He supported many charities and was preoccupied with people ‘who are less fortunate than I am through no fault of their own’. Over the years and into advanced old age he enjoyed excellent health; he grew old gracefully in every way. He also retained his core liberal values to the end.

He very much regretted the closure of his old hospital, which was a warm, supportive community. The site has now been converted into apartments, but he was unsentimental about the change. For the last 10 years of his life he lived independently and happily in a care complex in the grounds of his old hospital.

Marjorie Annie (née Ames) his wife, whom he married in 1943, and his youngest daughter, Helen, predeceased him. He was survived by a daughter, a son, Hugh, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

D D R Williams

[BMJ 2016 354 4564 – accessed 23 January 2017]

(Volume XII, page web)

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