Obituaries

Ronald Howard Fox

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b4071 (Published 07 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4071
  1. Sue Beckers

    Hypothermia researcher whose work with elderly people supported government subsidy for heating

    Ronald Fox’s work on a large nationwide study in the winter of 1972 found that 10% of the over 65 year old participants had a deep body temperature of less than 35°C, resulting from poor heating and thermoregulatory failure. This collaboration between the Medical Research Council, the Centre for Environmental Studies, University College Hospital, and The Royal Free Hospital yielded the paper “The problem of the old and the cold” (Br Med J 1973;1:21-4, doi:10.1136/bmj.1.5844.21). The resulting report led to a recommendation for government subsidy of the heating costs for elderly people and a media furore. Hypothermia was subsequently added as a cause of death and that Christmas Ronald personally signed a card for each of the 2000 elderly people who had taken part in the study.

    Ronald had settled in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, in 1954 and joined the staff of the division of human physiology of the Medical Research Council, under Otto Edholm. Here he elucidated the heat exchanger mechanism between arteries and veins in limbs, which retains body heat …

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