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Martin McNicol

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 17 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6247
  1. Peter Davies, freelance journalist, London
  1. petergdavies{at}

Respiratory physician who fostered multidisciplinary team working

The incidence of tuberculosis surged in the early 1970s among Asian people in the London borough of Brent, many of whom had been expelled recently from Idi Amin’s Uganda. At the epidemic’s peak, doctors saw as many as 360 cases a year. Martin McNicol, who has died aged 81, was a respiratory physician based at the Central Middlesex Hospital and former president of the British Thoracic Society. He was ahead of his time in managing the outbreak with chemoprophylaxis for newly arrived immigrants and the BCG vaccination at birth for all children born in Brent. Most people with active disease were managed as outpatients with excellent results, and by the 1980s the incidence of the disease fell.

McNicol’s formative years as a house officer in the mid-1950s coincided with the early era of antibiotics: he later recalled excitement at the introduction of intravenous tetracycline and chloramphenicol, which heralded the possibility of controlling infection with drugs. In 1958 he joined Hammersmith Hospital, where he encountered the start of a more scientific approach to respiratory medicine under the epidemiologist Charles Fletcher, the physician Philip …

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