Geoffrey W C Hanks

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 02 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5457
  1. Derek Doyle

The death of Geoffrey W C Hanks (“Geoff”), aged 67, will have brought sadness to thousands of clinicians worldwide. He was a truly international figure, a polymath, described by a fellow pioneer as the “gentle giant” in the world of palliative medicine. He will be remembered for his research, his passion for teaching, his gently persuasive manner, and, above all else, his modesty and concern for others. Asked for one word that totally described him, arguably his closest colleague said “perfectionist.”

He came into this specialty, as did so many, with the surge of interest in, and commitment to, best possible “terminal care” in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Care of dying patients had always been a priority in medical practice, but evidence was accumulating that such care, and particularly its scientific base, could be improved in home and hospital. Some—often expressing their ideas with missionary fervour—saw freestanding “charitable” hospices as the answer, challenging as it was to conduct research in them. Geoff, ever the rigorous researcher, was not one of them.

Others thought palliative care services or teams in hospitals …

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