Intended for healthcare professionals


Max Rendall: consultant surgeon who became an addiction specialist in retirement

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 19 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1051
  1. Colin Brewer, psychiatrist and addiction specialist (retired)
  1. London, UK
  1. brewerismo{at}

Max Rendall, who has died at the age of 85, was a consultant surgeon and superintendent at Guy’s Hospital, London. In retirement, he developed a second career in addiction medicine and wrote a book criticising the century old “noble experiment” of outlawing mood altering drugs other than alcohol and nicotine.

After a year at Harvard, he became a consultant at Guy’s Hospital at 34. Soon, his manifest organisational skills got him elevated to superintendent, where his tact and politeness enabled him to defuse the resistance to change that some older surgeons displayed. Unusually for a London teaching hospital consultant, Max had no private practice. Colleagues and students remember him as a skilled and kindly surgeon and an excellent teacher. He was also an innovator, introducing problem oriented medical records, audit systems, and weekly surgical meetings to discuss treatment failures, as well as successes, and how to learn from them. He wished politicians would adopt the self-examination and self-criticism that are …

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