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Edmund Clegg Atkinson

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 05 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1288
  1. Richard Edmund Atkinson

    Soon after qualification, Edmund Clegg Atkinson (“Teddy”) became “doc” on the Cap Pilar, a barquentine having neither motor nor radio, and manned by an amateur crew circumnavigating the world from 1936 to 1938. Teddy left the voyage in Cape Town in April 1937, having visited Madeira, the Azores, Rio de Janeiro, and Tristan da Cunha, where he was washed ashore unconscious after the longboat upturned. He had performed surgery and sacrificed the pig for fresh meat.

    Back in England, he gained extensive surgical experience, including at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, where he met Margaret, his wife of 64 years.

    In 1939 he joined a practice in St Ives, Cornwall, where he continued in part time surgery. Despite being in the Officer Training Corps (OTC) as a student, he was asked to remain in Cornwall at the outbreak of war as the most experienced surgeon west of Truro, operating at Penzance and Hayle. He trained a medically qualified nun to give anaesthetics.

    In 1948, with the inception of the NHS, he moved to Sheffield, where he practised until retirement at the age of 72. Adored by generations of patients, and never suffering fools gladly (!), he figured favourably in Taylor’s (later Lord Taylor) review of post-NHS practice. In 1953 in the BMJ he published (jointly) a paper on early cancer detection and education, also receiving the Dawson Cancer Trust award in 1957.

    His thirst for knowledge never ceased: he became an expert on mediaeval church architecture and stained glass. He received a degree in archaeology in his 80s.

    Predeceased by Margaret and his eldest son, he leaves two sons (one a consultant in pain medicine), seven grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1288


    • Former general practitioner Sheffield, South Yorkshire (b 20 September 1911; q St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, 1935), d 29 July 2009.

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