Lives of the fellows

John Vincent Howard

b.8 February 1950 d.2 July 2016 MRCS LRCP(1972) MB BS Lond(1972) MRCGP(1980) FRCGP(1993) FRCP(2012)

John Vincent Howard was a general practitioner in Caterham, Surrey who developed the international examination for membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He was born in Croydon. As a child, he lived in a large house in south London with his parents (both teachers), his three sisters and his aunt, Edith Newling, who ran a GP surgery from their home. He went on to study medicine at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School, qualifying in 1972.

After house posts, he trained as a GP in Croydon and then, in 1975, became a principal in general practice in Caterham. He had a special interest in cardiology and opened a cardiology suite at the practice, which included an electrocardiogram (ECG) and an exercise bike. He later established a seven-day ambulatory ECG and blood pressure service for 18 local practices. He was also the GP lead for cardiology for Surrey NHS Primary Care Trust.

Howard was also involved in the training of general practitioners. Among other appointments, he was an undergraduate GP tutor at St George’s Hospital Medical School, at Kings’, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School and at University College London Medical School, a trainer in general practice for Kent, Surrey and Sussex GP Postgraduate Education Deanery at the University of Brighton, and a visiting lecturer at London South Bank University.

Howard realised that, though the membership examination of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) was the gold standard qualification of general practice, it was not always relevant for doctors working outside the UK. He estimated around 70% of family medicine was common to every country, but 30% was more country specific. He developed the idea of an international MRCGP examination, designed to meet the needs of the countries from which the candidates came. Each participating site created its own course, with the Royal College of General Practitioners supporting curriculum development, assessment and the examination. He led the programme at the Royal College of General Practitioners from 1998 to 2014. He was also chairman of the international forum of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges from 2009.

In 2012, he was awarded the president’s medal of the Royal College of General Practitioners. In the last years of his life, he was a visiting professor at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, where he led the development of a new masters degree in family medicine. The university has set up an annual scholarship in his name.

On his holidays, he worked as a doctor on cruise ships and on the Trans-Siberian Express. He also enjoyed literature and gardening.

He was survived by his wife Linda, a consultant in genitourinary medicine whom he had met at medical school, and their two children.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2016 354 5248 – accessed 29 November 2018]

(Volume XII, page web)

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