Noel BrowneLloyd Jerome ChristopherJohn Guy George EglintonJohn Brookshaw EndacottGeorge Rennie MillarBMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7103.316 (Published 02 August 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:316
Minister for health Republic of Ireland 1948-51, former consultant psychiatrist Dublin (b 1915; q Trinity College Dublin 1942; DPM, MRCPsych), d 22 May 1997. Born into a destitute Irish family that was ravaged by tuberculosis, he was orphaned at the age of 10 and educated thereafter in a public school in England through the generosity of almost chance acquaintances. He was inspired by the establishment of the British National Health Service, and a spell working in London hospitals during its foundation led him to believe that the cash transaction between doctor and patient was indefensible. On returning to Ireland he discovered that socialised medicine had powerful enemies among the medical profession and the Roman Catholic church. He decided that he could do more for people in politics than in medicine, was elected to parliament at his first attempt, and was appointed minister for health on his first day in the Dail.
He began a frenetic programme of building tuberculosis hospitals, funded by liquidating the hospital sweepstakes assets. The hospitals now had streptomycin, and the mortality rate dropped from 123 to 73 per 100 000 during his term …