Lives of the fellows

Anthony Carl Kaeser

b.16 April 1932 d.18 May 2016
MB BS Lond(1957) MRCS LRCP(1957) MRCP(1961) DPM(1964) MRCPsych(1971) FRCPsych(1978) FRCP(1992)

Tony Kaeser was a consultant psychiatrist in Runwell, Billericay and Basildon, one of a group of pioneering psychiatrists who, as mental asylums were being phased out from the 1960s onwards, were committed to promoting the specialty in district general hospitals. Tony was born in Croydon, the second child of Winifred St Claire Kaeser née Jay and Carl Kaeser. He decided he wanted to be a psychiatrist at the age of 18 and, as he had not applied to any medical schools, he chose to do his National Service first. He joined the RAF in September 1950 for two years and was posted to RAF Calshot, to the flying boat station, where he became a senior aircraftsman.

He began his medical studies at St Mary’s Hospital, London in October 1952. Here he joined the athletic club and sometimes ran the bar. After qualifying in 1957, Tony’s first job as a surgical house officer was for Sir Arthur Porritt [Munk’s Roll, Vol.X, p.388] and, following another prestigious house job at St Mary’s, he obtained a post at the Brompton, which had a light clinical load and allowed plenty of time for lectures and further postgraduate studies. There followed posts at Hammersmith Hospital and the National Hospital, Queen Square and a return to St Mary’s and Paddington General Hospital as a medical registrar.

He obtained his membership of the Royal College of Physicians in 1961 and applied for a senior house officer post on the Maudsley training scheme and was accepted. He began on the Aubrey Lewis professorial unit under Michael Shepherd [Munk’s Roll, Vol.X, p.446] – an experience which was both academically challenging and profitable. Michael Rutter, the child and adolescent psychiatrist, organised research on the Isle of Wight screening children for disabilities, which Tony participated in. He also spent 15 months working on Shepherd’s GP research unit studying reasons for GP referrals. Frederick Kräupl Taylor and Denis Leigh [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.330] were other very influential teachers Tony greatly valued whilst completing his senior registrar training in 1969.

During his time at the Maudsley Tony decided he wanted to work in a community hospital setting as a consultant. He was appointed to the general adult psychiatry post at Runwell and Basildon hospitals in Essex, commencing in February 1969. This had the advantage that there were plans for a psychiatric unit in the grounds of the new district general hospital at Basildon. They came to fruition in the purpose built department of psychological medicine opened in 1977 and steered to completion with the help of Tony’s dedicated attention to detail and determination to prioritise the patient’s positive experience of the hospital environment.

Tony was a convenor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ training approval visits and was the first team leader to visit the large Hong Kong training scheme in 1984. They found the variety of hospitals and skills of the professional staff very similar to their experiences of UK psychiatry.

He provided liaison psychiatry services at Basildon Hospital and covered the regional burns and plastic surgery unit at St Andrew’s Hospital, Billericay for 11 years. For three years he chaired the Basildon General Hospital district consultant staff committee and devoted the last seven years of his career to work in psychogeriatrics. Shortly before retiring, Tony was a General Medical Council examiner for health and in retirement was one of two Lord Chancellor’s visitors assessing detained people for capacity in community care. He was a volunteer area visitor for the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund until he reached their retirement age.

Tony was a kindly, quietly spoken, ethically grounded doctor who willingly provided his services to NHS staff and their families over and above his official duties. His thinking was always carefully considered and impressively wise. His gentle manners put people at ease and he retained a genuine interest in them even when very unwell himself towards the end of his life.

His personal life was a happy one. He inherited his father’s stamp collection, loved all sorts of music and enjoyed his pianola. He participated in regular contract bridge sessions with medical colleagues throughout his career and in retirement until 2012. He rejoiced in his family’s achievements. His wife, Wendy (née Procter), worked as an NHS health visitor and they had two daughters and six grandchildren, one of whom is a member of the Royal Ballet corps de ballet.

Tony’s commitment to others extended beyond his life in that he donated his body tissues to living recipients and his brain for research into amyloid disease.

Michael Lowe

[BJPsych Bulletin Columns Obituary Anthony Carol (Tony) Kaeser FRCP, FRCPsych 29 September 2016 – accessed 16 November 2016; BMJ 2016 354 3828 – accessed 16 November 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

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