Lives of the fellows

Thomas Maurice Little

b.27 July 1941 d.7 January 2017
MB BCh BAO Belf(1965) MRCP(1969) FRCP(1982) FRCPCH

Maurice Little was a consultant paediatrician for the Medway NHS Trust from 1976 until 2005. He was born near Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, to Emily Little née Ross, a teacher, and John Little, a dairy farmer. After attending Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, he read medicine at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Maurice left Northern Ireland after his house jobs and worked in general medicine in Liverpool, where he gained his MRCP. It was during this time he met his wife Lorna (née Marchesi), a graduate of Liverpool University Medical School; they married in 1970.

Maurice became interested in paediatrics and spent two years as a paediatric registrar at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool. In 1972, Maurice, Lorna and their newborn son moved to Kingston, Ontario, where Maurice was a fellow in paediatric neurology. This job included a secondment to an Inuit settlement on Hudson Bay in the depths of winter, a fascinating though chilly experience. This started a lifelong interest for Maurice in the lives of people from different cultures, and he had many friends all around the world.

On returning from Canada, Maurice worked as a senior registrar at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. In 1976 he was appointed as a consultant paediatrician to the Medway NHS Trust, with special interests in paediatric neurology and oncology. He organised the paediatric oncology services in Medway on a ‘shared care’ basis with Great Ormond Street and the Royal Marsden hospitals. He established, with funding from the charity Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood, a home care nursing team for children with cancer, leukaemia and other life-threatening illnesses, which continues to care for these children in their own homes.

He mentored many junior doctors over the years. He always kept in touch with his mentees who came from all over the world and cared deeply about their careers and wellbeing. A quiet and modest man, he had excellent diagnostic skills and always stressed to his mentees the importance of basic clinical skills, as well as offering support to the parents.

Maurice was the paediatric regional adviser for the Royal College of Physicians. At the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health he was chairman of the south-east Thames regional paediatric committee, and a member of the general professional training committee and the continuing professional development committee. He was also a member of University of Greenwich’s research ethics committee and an external professional adviser to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Following his retirement, Maurice was a member of the independent monitoring board of Rochester Prison for over a decade. He also organised a survey on the health and care of elderly prisoners in UK prisons and submitted a report to the Home Office.

He had a fierce intellect and was widely read, always eager to explore new theories and ideas. Maurice was always concerned with the welfare of others, both in his professional life and his everyday interactions. Many families owe a debt of gratitude for his clinical care and humanity.

Maurice died at the age of 75 of pancreatic cancer. His loss is keenly felt by many, but the legacy of his altruism lives on. He was survived by his wife Lorna, three children and two grandchildren.

Lorna Little

[The Guardian 17 September 2017 – accessed 31 January 2018; BMJ 2017 359 4936 – accessed 31 January 2018]

(Volume XII, page web)

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