Gladys Mary Tinker

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 25 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4445
  1. Anne Freeman,
  2. Philip Routledge,
  3. Hamsaraj Shetty,
  4. Dwarak Sastry

Gladys Mary Tinker was born in Montrose, Scotland, the daughter of the late Leonard and Sylvia Purvis. Not only was she joint top academic scholar at school, but in her last year of secondary school was awarded the title of sports champion of the school. In her youth, she and her sister were keen rifle shots and competed all over Scotland.

She graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1969, and after house jobs there she started her junior training in Cardiff and in 1976 was senior registrar in Carmarthen and then to the late Professor John Pathy in Cardiff.

Gladys was appointed consultant in geriatric medicine in Cardiff in 1980 and chose to work at the newly developed unit at University Hospital Llandough, linked with the Sully Hospital rehabilitation service. As well as helping to set up the medical assessment unit, she developed a vibrant stroke rehabilitation service at Llandough, with a truly democratic multidisciplinary team. She also introduced the concept of “lead carer” for each patient based on their individual specific needs. She became clinical director for the elderly care directorate and was then medical director from 1997 to 1998, providing strong leadership despite carrying a heavy clinical workload. She received the Welsh Woman of the Year award in the management category in 1997.

She was an excellent physician, communicator, inspiring teacher, and mentor. Her principal concern was always for the wellbeing of her patients. She never refrained from vehemently opposing any initiative or action she felt was ageist or which compromised the care of older and disabled people. She continually reminded everyone to “address the person’s disability as well as the disease,” and she brought these holistic insights into her subsequent role as a senior medical officer in the Welsh government, where she helped to champion the needs of people with chronic conditions and the national service framework for older people in Wales. She was appointed OBE in 2003 for services to the NHS.

She was passionate about her teaching roles for both undergraduates and postgraduates. As Llandough Hospital’s first substantive postgraduate organiser, she helped to drive through the establishment of a purpose-built postgraduate centre at Llandough and she obtained the MSc in medical education from Cardiff University.

Having spent her career helping to improve the care of elderly people she then helped to establish, and was appointed president of the Penarth and District Stroke Support Group. She also served as a local magistrate.

Her love of fast cars and her many cats gave her enormous pleasure. She enjoyed history and in 1972, was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Edinburgh. She also loved crafts (ceramics, jewellery, lace making) and music. She was a regular attender at orchestral concerts and was herself an accomplished pianist.

She was a role model for junior doctors and her colleagues and was incredibly kind and supportive to the many overseas doctors who worked with her. Those of us who were fortunate to know her as a colleague and friend will always remember her deep humanity, her wisdom, her open office door approach, and her willingness always to spend time listening patiently to our concerns, and then giving wise counsel, support, or encouragement over a cup of coffee.

She leaves her sister, Jeane.

Consultant physician with interest in geriatric medicine Cardiff (b 1945; q Edinburgh 1969; OBE, MSc, FRCP), died suddenly on 14 October 2016

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