Alan Montague Johnson

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 29 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6853
  1. Peter Johnson

Above all a gifted clinician, diagnostician, and teacher, Alan Montague Johnson employed humour, firmness of purpose, erudition, and hard work in the treatment of his patients, in teaching, and in many additional duties.

Born and schooled in Oxford, one of seven children, he entered medicine through King’s College London and Westminster Medical School, first in wartime Birmingham and then London. His final student year was interrupted by miliary and cavitating pulmonary tuberculosis. In pre-antibiotic times it took a year to overcome this, but he considered it had made him a better doctor. After nine years in general medicine, with a spell in rheumatology that included a year as research fellow at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, he trained in cardiology at Guy’s Hospital and the Institute of Cardiology, London, as lecturer and chief assistant to the director.

He was appointed in 1962 as the first full time consultant cardiologist to the Wessex Region and subsequently to the staff of King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst. He covered both adult and paediatric cardiology, and in the days before echocardiography he became well known for his special skill in the clinical diagnosis of complex congenital heart disease. He was a memorable bedside teacher and presented many papers before the British Cardiac and other learned Societies as well as publishing 60 papers in the scientific journals, eleven as sole author. His chapter in The Dying Patient (ed. E. Wilkes, Springer, 1982) was well received. He was joined by a second cardiologist in 1970 and the first paediatric cardiologist in 1978. Between 1962 and after retiring in 1986 he became assistant editor to the British Heart Journal, adviser in cardiology to the chief medical officer, liaison officer between the Department of Health and the Cardiac Society, and adviser in cardiology to the London Health Services Planning Consortium; he also served on regional and national committees, chairing several.

He was a popular after dinner speaker and after retiring gave occasional talks to lay audiences on the cardiologist’s work. In retirement he indulged his particular pleasures in books, music, painting, caravanning and cycling in France, and a large family. Six episodes of coronary occlusion, the first one a year after he had retired, kept him close to cardiology, first in Southampton for bypass surgery in his own unit and later in Derriford Hospital, Plymouth.

His first wife, Bobbie, whom he married in 1947, died suddenly in 1993. In 1994 he married Frances, an old friend of hers, who survives him. He leaves three children from his first marriage, four stepchildren, eight grandchildren, two step grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. His son and two grandsons have followed him into medicine.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6853


  • Former consultant cardiologist Wessex Region, Southampton (b 1921; q Westminster Medical School, London, 1946; MD, FRCP), d 11 December 2015.

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