Lives of the fellows

Michael Downing Flynn

b.26 August 1956 d.29 June 2017
MB BS Lond(1979) MRCP(1982) MD(1991) FRCP Edin(1996) FRCP(1999)

Michael 'Mike' Flynn was a consultant physician with a special interest in diabetes and endocrinology from 1992. He was employed in 1997 by East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, working mainly in Canterbury. He was one of a team of clinical tutors at the local postgraduate deanery, supervising many medical students and junior doctors through their education programmes. Michael also worked in a private capacity and developed expertise in medico-legal work from 1998.

Michael was born in Liverpool, the son of Tom Flynn, a pharmacist, and Sybil Flynn née Downing, a teacher, and spent his formative years in the Birkenhead area of the Wirral. He was educated at Birkenhead School and had outstanding ability in the sciences and geography. He studied medicine at St Thomas's Medical School in London, achieving outstanding grades. During his medical training, Michael became an officer cadet with the University Officers’ Training Corps. He qualified with the certificate of military training in 1976. It was an experience he often referred to and could have led to a career with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Michael was awarded the Lord Riddell medical prize in 1978, then soon after the Cheselden medal for surgery. He gained the Beaney prize for surgery in 1979 and the Grainger prize for dermatology in the same year. He became a member of Royal Colleges of Physicians in 1982.

Michael took up a research fellow and honorary registrar post with the diabetes department at King’s College Hospital in London in 1985. He concurrently became an honorary research fellow at Charing Cross Hospital. These clinical experiences culminated in his study series of microvascular measurement of capillary blood flow and changes in the diabetic foot, for which he achieved a doctor of medicine degree in 1991. Michael was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1996 and of London in 1999.

Michael worked with the National Clinical Guidelines Centre (NICE) to produce the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guideline on Peripheral arterial disease: diagnosis and management (CG147), published in 2012. He later collaborated as a member of the guideline development group in support of Type one diabetes in adults: diagnosis and management, published as the NICE clinical guideline NG17 in 2015. He was a member of the expert adviser panel in 2016 for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s centre for clinical practice. Michael took a part in the Royal College of Physicians’ advisory appointments committee for consultant posts for several London and South East England hospitals. He was one of a committee monitoring data for the BASIL-2 trial: bypass versus angioplasty in severe ischaemia of the leg. Michael worked with many specialist physicians, surgeons, obstetricians, radiologists, nuclear medicine specialists, pathologists, general practitioners, podiatrists, diabetes specialist nurses and dietetic practitioners for the holistic benefit of patients notably with long term endocrine conditions. His assured diagnoses and unambiguous treatment plans earned him huge respect from his patients. He continues to be remembered as a remarkable clinician to the many patients who have survived him.

Michael had many consuming interests. He was an accomplished wood worker and prolific vegetable gardener. He was a proficient dinghy and yacht sailor. Michael had a natural ability with electronics and speedily attained an amateur full radio license in 2008 with the Office of Communications. He took an active part in Dover Amateur Radio Club, teaching students the foundation and intermediate license syllabuses. He latterly took up running as he was curious about his sister and family who were taking part in parkrun. He was dubbed 'the spirit' of Canterbury parkrun, in which he was involved from its start in 2014. He completed the Canterbury ten-mile run in January 2017 despite the raging malignancy that befell him. 'Prof Mike' was a compulsive teacher and his persuasive style recruited many eager students – work colleagues and students, club and society acquaintances, friends and family. The knowledge he imparted with his didactic and amusing style is much missed.

Michael died less than one year after his retirement. His humanist service was attended by many friends, colleagues and family who were so numerous they could not fit into the small chapel. The day of his funeral was sunny and warm and his burial took place in the arboretum of Canterbury Cemetery. He was survived by Elizabeth and Eleanor, his older daughters, and their mother, Helen. Elizabeth was expecting his first granddaughter. He was also survived by Louise, his youngest daughter, then aged 15, and her mother Kate, his partner, and also by his sister Caroline, and Tom and Sybil, his parents. Michael is much missed and will never be forgotten.

Kathryn (Kate) Druce

[With acknowledgements to Caroline Bennett, Helen Flynn and Paul Molony]

(Volume XII, page web)

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