Ronald Arthur (Sam) Robinson

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 09 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3581
  1. Anne Gulland, London
  1. annecgulland{at}

Psychiatrist who established the world’s first comprehensive psychogeriatric service

In 1954 psychiatrist Sam Robinson attended an international gerontology conference where he met Raphael Ginzberg, a psychiatrist based in the US who had published several papers on the psychiatric problems of older people. Robinson would later say that Ginzberg was the catalyst for his ideas about the treatment of older people with mental health problems.

Speaking at a witness seminar in 2008 on the development of old age psychiatry in the UK Robinson said that Ginzberg, who died soon after their meeting in 1954, “passed some sort of a baton to me.”1

At the time Robinson was working at the Crichton Royal Hospital in Dumfries, southwest Scotland, which was a leading psychiatric hospital, and considered one of the best places to undertake postgraduate training in Britain.

The specialty of old age psychiatry was still in its infancy in the mid-1950s: older patients were admitted to acute wards alongside younger patients. At the Crichton they were looking for ways to improve on the widespread practice of admitting elderly patients directly to the long stay wards, where they received little or no treatment.

The Crichton …

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