David Bennett

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 28 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3713
  1. Anne Gulland, freelance journalist, London
  1. annecgulland{at}

Intensivist who showed that increased blood flow saves lives

David Bennett could not have been more disdainful when in 1988 he had the opportunity to meet the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. She was at St George’s Hospital in London to visit survivors of the Clapham rail crash. Thatcher’s NHS reorganisation, reviled by many doctors, was in full swing. Bennett, professor of intensive care medicine at St George’s, “resolutely refused to even acknowledge her,” remembers Mervyn Singer, who was a research fellow under Bennett at the time and is now professor of intensive care at University College London. This attitude was typical for a doctor who was a champion of the NHS and so unimpressed with private healthcare that he refused to do any such practice. “He almost despised it,” says Andrew Rhodes, now clinical director of critical care at St George’s and a junior doctor under Bennett.

A champion of blood flow

Bennett was not interested in NHS management or afraid of upsetting hospital hierarchies. During the flu epidemic of 1999 he appeared regularly on the television news to warn of a shortage of intensive care beds. When managers got fed …

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