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Ronald Hinchcliffe

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 16 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1664
  1. Linda M Luxon,
  2. Dafydd Stephens
  1. Correspondence to: L M Luxon l.luxon{at}

Laid the foundations for audiology as a medical specialty

Ronald Hinchcliffe was a champion of the many patients with hearing and balance disorders, who were often unrecognised and poorly treated, causing considerable educational, social, and occupational limitations. He was one of the first academic clinicians to recognise the role of the basic sciences in underpinning the development of world class clinical medicine. His research and clinical skills led to his appointment to the first chair of audiological medicine in the United Kingdom at the University of London, many international appointments, and recognition as a world authority in audiology. He was instrumental in developing the scientific foundation of audiology, establishing national and international professional organisations and, in the UK, the clinical specialty of audiovestibular medicine.

Hinchcliffe’s epidemiological studies of hearing in south Wales and southeast Scotland defined the normal limits of hearing as a function of age and showing the high frequency hearing loss in men who had been exposed to noise at work. These findings established Hinchcliffe as an international authority on hearing loss induced by noise, and he became renowned for his advice in occupational compensation claims. His evidence formed the basis of Justice Mustill’s landmark decision in 1984 that, as from 1963, all employers were responsible for protecting workers’ hearing.

Hinchcliffe, however, was soon enticed back to the United States to set …

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