Richard William Beard

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 16 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3380
  1. Lesley Regan

Richard William Beard was professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, from 1972 to 1996. He was known for his kind, often self effacing personality, and his main concern was first and foremost the wellbeing of mothers and their babies. He developed techniques that are still practised today, including the development and introduction of fetal heart monitoring, the management of diabetes during pregnancy, treatment of recurrent miscarriages, and, latterly, the origins and management of pelvic pain in women.

He encouraged a less authoritative approach between obstetricians and their patients. This included encouraging mothers to engage immediately with their newborn babies and have their partners present during delivery—a now universally accepted practice. The homely décor of the labour rooms and postnatal wards at St Mary’s were inspired by his foresight, creating a sense of welcome and calm not usually experienced in hospital wards at that time.

Born in Sussex, Richard Beard was educated in India and at Westminster School. He read natural sciences at Cambridge University and qualified …

View Full Text

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial