Alistair Brewis

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 27 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h17
  1. Anne Gulland, London
  1. annecgulland{at}

Chest physician who introduced patient centred care to the specialty

Alistair Brewis had a gift for communicating with patients, and—long before the phrase “patient centred care” was invented—he put the patient at the heart of everything he did as a doctor.

He spent most of his career at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he introduced a patient centred model of care of asthma patients and those with other lung conditions.

When an adult with asthma came to see him, he would draw up a personalised plan of care which included both words and illustrations—Brewis was a talented artist who painted and drew all his life. Acknowledging that patients with a chronic illness such as asthma were often more knowledgeable about their disease than their doctors, he educated patients to recognise their symptoms and manage their own condition.

Today, thanks in part to Brewis’s work in developing a written asthma action plan, patients’ self management and personalised care are recognised in guidelines from both the British Thoracic Society and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Brewis also cared for patients with cystic fibrosis—a …

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