Roy Simpson

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 13 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5459
  1. Michael A E Ramsay, chairman, Department of Anaesthesiology, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75240, USA,
  2. Peter Walling, retired anaesthesiologist, Bartonville, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to: M Ramsay docram{at}

Anaesthetist who brought cerebral function monitors to intensive care

The anaesthetist Roy Simpson, who has died aged 89, insisted on the acronym ITU (intensive therapy unit) instead of ICU (intensive care unit) because, he said, “We treat patients as well as care for them.” In 1967 Roy was promoted to chair the teaching and research arm of the anaesthesia department of the Royal London Hospital. Over the next five years the unit became a world class centre. He developed and directed the hospital’s first ITU, staffed by dedicated intensivists. Roy’s mental toughness was needed in the early days when resources were scarce. In February 1975 the ITU was swamped with patients from the Moorgate tube disaster, and Roy made the hard choices as to who should be admitted to the ITU.

Roy was a stickler for detail, and the Monday morning ward round after a long weekend in the ITU was testing. We used to joke that, if things had gone badly over the weekend, we hoped to escape unscathed when “the manure hit the fan.” …

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