Patrick Guy Houghton

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 25 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6307
  1. H A G Houghton

Born into a Birmingham medical family, Patrick Guy Houghton was H D Rolleston scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge, and graduated with first class honours in the medical Tripos in 1968. His training continued at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where he also spent several evenings each week at concerts or operas. He particularly enjoyed the music of Richard Wagner, whom his great grandfather, Julius Cyriax, had supplied with luxury goods through his London pharmaceutical company and had even persuaded to become godfather to his younger daughter. Guy married a fellow medical student from Cambridge, Jennifer Rumsey, in 1970. After qualifying they spent a year travelling round the world, with Guy gaining international experience of general practice through short term posts in Saskatchewan and New South Wales. He also undertook an early locum in Lambeth with Professor David Morrell, which he found particularly formative. He enjoyed entering prize essay competitions, and was awarded the Maccabaean prize in 1973 for an essay on the history of cholera.

Guy’s first appointment as a general practitioner was as an assistant in Tenbury Wells. In 1976 he and Jennifer moved back to Birmingham to become partners in the medical practice in Hall Green that had been founded in 1910 by Guy’s grandfather, Cuthbert Houghton. After his father, Arnold Cecil Houghton, retired, Guy became senior partner and oversaw the expansion of the family practice into Greenbank Surgery. Guy was interested in medical education and became a course organiser for the vocational training scheme for GPs in south and central Birmingham in 1980. In 1991 he took on the position of associate adviser in general practice in the West Midlands Deanery and later became associate dean. In 2009 he was awarded the Robin Steel award for vocational training in general practice by the Midland faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners, of which he had been made a fellow in 1990. Guy’s focus on evidence based medicine and quality of care meant that he was involved with medical audit from the late 1980s. He was elected the first chairman of the Birmingham Medical Audit Advisory Group (MAAG), publishing newsletters and guidelines that were sent to all GPs in Birmingham. He also became RCGP Midland faculty audit convenor and chairman of the West Midlands Region GP audit committee in 1992, followed by election as chairman of the National Primary Care Audit Group in 1994. In 1999 he took on the clinical directorship of the Birmingham clinical governance unit. He published many peer reviewed papers, including articles on GP education, diabetes mellitus, family planning, clinical governance, assessment, appraisal, and medical audit. During his retirement he completed an MPhil thesis at the University of Birmingham on the history of GP education in Birmingham, drawing on this extensive professional experience.

It was a proud family tradition that Guy’s mother, Enid, was the first female member of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London. Guy and his siblings were apprenticed to her, and he duly ensured that his three children also became liverymen of the society and freemen of the City of London. He was also an enthusiastic member of the Buckland Club, a Birmingham dining society and sponsored a themed meal in which every dish was the vehicle for a poison in the novels of Agatha Christie. Although Guy enjoyed watching rugby and played hockey and squash, the highlight of his sporting career was appearing on the hallowed turf of Edgbaston for the doctors versus clergy cricket match. He passed his love of classical music on to his children, whom he was proud to see performing in a variety of venues, including with a number of his former patients in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

A cardiac arrest in 2007 prompted his complete retirement, which permitted him to indulge his interest in foreign travel and work on his family’s genealogical archive. This was curtailed by the onset of dementia, initially at home and for the last three years as a resident of Bradbury Court in Malvern. He died peacefully in his sleep. He leaves his wife, three children, and a granddaughter.

Former general practitioner; associate dean West Midlands Postgraduate Deanery; chair of the National Primary Care Audit Group (b 1946; q Cambridge/St Thomas’ Hospital 1972; DObst RCOG, Cert FPA, FRCGP, DFFP), d 26 October 2016

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