Intended for healthcare professionals


Peter Pritchard: general practitioner with “legendary” improvisation skills

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 15 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k676
  1. Iona Heath
  1. London
  1. iona.heath22{at}

Peter Pritchard, who died just a few months short of his centenary, had an extraordinary ability to improvise pragmatic solutions to practical problems, whether physical or organisational. This made him well prepared for 37 years in NHS general practice.

Perhaps in some way the unusual circumstances of his birth and childhood fostered his particular skills. He was born in London on 19 May 1918 during a German Zeppelin raid. His father had joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1916 and had trained as an airship pilot. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Peter’s father survived the war and in July 1919 he was a member of crew of the R34 airship which was the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic from east to west and back again. On arrival in New York after the four day crossing, he parachuted to the ground to supervise the landing of the airship, so becoming the first person to arrive in America by air. After this triumph, he was then killed in 1921, when the R38 airship exploded and plunged into the Humber estuary. Peter was only 3 years old, his sister 6, and his brother 5.

“Special talents”

Ten years later Peter started at Woodbridge School …

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