Lives of the fellows

Alan Barham Carter

b.5 February 1907 d.8 August 1995
MRCS LRCP(1931) MB Bchir Cantab(1933) MRCP(1933) DPM(1934) MD(1940) FRCP(1961)

Alan Barham Carter was one of the last general physicians with a special interest in neurology, and during his long career helped build neurological services at Ashford Hospital, Middlesex. He was born in Kent, the son of a gun designer at Woolwich Arsenal, and was educated at Tonbridge School. He went on to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was Tancred scholar and later to St Thomas’s Hospital. He graduated in 1931.

After house appointments at St Thomas’s and at Charing Cross Hospital, he was appointed as a resident medical officer to Maida Vale Hospital for Nervous Diseases. He then worked at Shenley Hospital until 1938, when he was appointed a consultant physician with a special interest in neurology at the Central Middlesex County Hospital.

In 1943 he was asked to set up a department of medicine at the EMS hutted hospital at Ashford where, apart from service in the RAMC from 1944 to 1947, he was to remain for the rest of his professional life. In the RAMC he worked as a neurological specialist at Shaftesbury Military Hospital, Dorset, and was later the officer commanding the medical division and neurological specialist at the Hospital for Head Injuries at Wheatley, Oxford.

Following demobilization in 1947 he returned to Ashford, which by then had become a district hospital. He continued working there as a consultant general physician with a special interest in neurology for the next 31 years. During that time he was also a civilian adviser in neurology to the War Office and consultant neurologist at Queen Alexandra Military Hospital, Millbank, and the Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot. He made original contributions to the diagnosis and management of cerebrovascular disease, and was a guest lecturer in many European countries and the United States. In addition he spent a fruitful time at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with Ray Adams and Miller Fisher.

In 1968 he was appointed as an honorary consultant physician at St Georges Hospitals neurological centre at the Atkinson Morley Hospital, Wimbledon, where he worked with Wylie McKissock and his team investigating the diagnosis and management of subarachnoid haemorrhage. He was proud of starting the association between Ashford Hospital and St George’s.

He retired in 1972, but was then asked if he would set up a department of geriatrics. He entered upon this with his usual enthusiasm until a consultant in geriatric medicine was appointed two years later. He then continued as a part time neurologist, finally leaving Ashford Hospital in 1976. Later that year he was asked if he would accept the post of consultant physician to St George’s Hospital at Hyde Park Corner. The offer delighted him as it meant a return to undergraduate teaching and he stayed for four years until the hospital closed.

He wrote on cerebrovascular disease, hypertension and ‘functional’ nervous diseases, particularly hysteria. He contributed many articles to medical journals and wrote two books (Cerebral infarction, Oxford, Pergamon Press, 1964 and All about strokes, London, Nelson, 1968). He gave the inaugural lecture to the Royal College of Psychiatrists on ‘A physician’s view of hysteria’. He was secretary of the neurological section of the RSM for two years and was on the council for five years, although he still considered himself a physician interested in neurology, rather than a neurologist interested in general medicine.

He married Mollie Christina Sanders in 1937. They had four children.

P E Baldry

[Brit.med.J.,1995,311,1222-3]

(Volume X, page 58)

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