Lives of the fellows

Peter John Allestree Moult

b.6 January 1947 d. 5 January 2017
MB BS Lond(1969) MRCS LRCP(1969) MRCP(1972) MD(1978) FRCP(1988)

Peter Moult was a consultant endocrinologist at the Whittington Hospital, London. He was born in Derby to a very old Derby family – he traced them back to the 13th century. His father, Gordon Allestree Moult, was a solicitor, as was his grandfather. His mother, Margaret Dorothy Moult née Crook, was a housewife. He was educated first at Repton Preparatory School followed by Monkton Combe School in Somerset, where he learned to typeset and print. He had wanted to be a doctor since the age of seven and entered Westminster Medical School in 1964, from which he qualified in 1969.

Peter is remembered by one of his class mates as the quiet intellectual at the end of the corridor. He always knew a vast amount about everything and his fellow students always came to him for an answer (even though he was the youngest of their year). It amused him that, having rowed for Monkton Combe in the fourth eight, he was elevated to the Westminster first eight. He was also very interested in electronics and old coins. He had an excellent sense of humour and a loud laugh, rather out of character as he was a quiet, slightly shy person.

He did extremely well in his finals and was rewarded by being given the house job at Westminster for Richard Tonkin [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] and Brian Gibberd [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web]. While he was at Westminster he was allowed two half days off in six months to get his hair cut, but no nights or weekends.

He then moved to orthopaedics at Queen Mary’s, Roehampton, where he had to manage the medical morbidity of the orthopaedic patients on his own. He said he learned even more medicine there than at Westminster.

Following a post registration house physician post at St James’ Balham, he moved to the Southampton medical senior house officer rotation (from February 1971 to August 1972), which is where he met Jane (Stanford) his future wife when she went to do a student locum on John Bernard (‘Jack’) Howell’s [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] chest firm. He had to sign all the prescriptions and also put in most of the drips as she claims that she was absolutely hopeless at it. He said afterwards that she became an anaesthetist only so that she could say that at last she was better at intravenous cannulation than him.

He passed the MRCP from there in 1972. He was given a viva by Sheila Sherlock [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.514], who immediately afterwards contacted him to offer him a research post on the liver unit at the Royal Free, which was then based in Gray’s Inn Road with an off-shoot in Liverpool Road.

His MD (1978) thesis was entitled ‘Studies of renal tubular function in patients with autoimmune liver disease’ – the degree was awarded without a viva (almost unheard of).

Following this, he was appointed as a registrar in general medicine, endocrinology and chest disease at the new Royal Free in Hampstead, working for Bill Havard [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] (his mentor), Jean Ginsberg [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] (both endocrinologists) and Stewart Clarke [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] (respiratory). He was notorious for having two daily lunches (an early and late) and yet keeping so slim.

He then went on to do research as an MRC training fellow and honorary senior registrar at St Bartholomew’s Hospital under Michael Besser. His main sphere of interest at this time was gynaecological endocrinology.

In October 1981, he was appointed as a consultant to the Whittington Hospital, where he and John Yudkin looked after a very large diabetic population, between them setting up the very successful diabetes and endocrine unit.

His research registrar at the Whittington was Chandrika Wijeyaratne from Sri Lanka. Peter took it upon himself to train her in clinical endocrinology, along with original research on atrial natriuretic peptide hormone. She went on to become an endocrinologist and professor of reproductive medicine in Colombo, and president of the Ceylon College of Physicians and of the Sri Lanka Medical Association.

Peter was elected as an FRCP in 1988. At various times he was technical sub-editor for Clinical Endocrinology and also worked for the Postgraduate Medical Journal.

In the last decade of his working life at the Whittington, Peter focused on endocrinology and became the clinical lead for the endocrine service. He set up the endocrine investigation protocols and was one of the first in the country to train nurses to perform dynamic endocrine tests. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of endocrinology and his clinic letters on complex patients were educational tutorials. Throughout the Whittington, his colleagues knew that Peter could unpick any complicated endocrine problem and, as in his medical school days, always came to him for an answer. His gentle and kind manner meant that he was much loved by staff and patients alike. Peter was an excellent trainer, an astute clinician and a researcher of the highest integrity.

Sadly, Peter had to retire prematurely in 2003 because of ill health (Parkinson’s disease). His colleagues at the Whittington were amazingly supportive of him as he struggled to keep going. His stiff upper lip, which he said developed at Repton Preparatory School (which he hated), was much in evidence.

He was survived by his wife Jane Stanford (a cardiothoracic anaesthetist) and their children, William and Annabel, who they adopted from Romania in 1990 and 1991. Peter was almost single-handedly responsible for the success in navigating a way through the immensely bureaucratic process in Romania with his typical patience, humour and common sense.

Norman Johnson
Maria Barnard
Chandrika N Wijeyaratne

[Endocrinologist Issue 124 Summer 2017 – accessed 26 June 2017]

(Volume XII, page web)

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