Intended for healthcare professionals


William Mackie Ross

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 05 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2842
  1. Walton of Detchant

Educated at Durham Johnston School, where he was an outstanding pupil, William Mackie Ross (“Bill”) was awarded a state scholarship and entered Newcastle Medical School, then part of the University of Durham, in 1941, graduating on a shortened wartime course in 1945. Having been trained in air raid precautions as a schoolboy, he had a noted career in the Senior Training Corps during the second world war, becoming the student company sergeant major, and after house officer appointments he served for two years in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

On demobilisation, Bill returned to Newcastle to work in the department of radiotherapy, and rapidly rose to become a consultant and esteemed colleague of the late Mr C J Thurgar. His clinical ability was outstanding, as was his organisation of the regional radiotherapy service, and he was highly regarded as a colleague by the consultant staff in Newcastle, eventually becoming chairman of the medical staff committee. He was also chairman of the Northern Council of the BMA, of the North of England Surgical Society, of the Section of Radiotherapy, Royal Society of Medicine, and of the Northern Region Medical Committee.

He served with distinction in the Territorial Army, becoming commanding officer in No 1 (Northern) General Hospital TA in 1966. In addition, he played a notable part on the national and international scenes, not least in the Royal College of Radiologists, becoming its president from 1983 to 1986. When his presidency came to an end, he served for several years as secretary to the Conference of Medical Royal Colleges (later the Academy). Many international responsibilities followed in the European and International Societies of Radiology; the latter organisation awarding him the Boris Rajewsky silver medal.

Hardworking, dedicated, hugely efficient, and clinically and administratively capable, Bill accepted a massive burden of clinical and administrative responsibility throughout his professional life. No task was too difficult, no responsibility too great. Eventually, he left Newcastle on retirement to live in his beloved Durham, where he had spent his childhood (his father was the golf professional at Durham City Golf Club). He was a close and valued friend of mine and was widely admired and respected. His wife of more than 60 years, Mary, predeceased him; they had two daughters and a son and five grandchildren.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2842


  • Former head of radiotherapy Newcastle General Hospital, and former president Royal College of Radiologists (b 1922; q Durham 1945; CBE, TD, DL, MD, FRCS, FRCR, Hon FACR, Hon FRCSEd), d 15 March 2011.

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