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Russell Hopkins

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 30 June 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2593
  1. Adrian Sugar

Russell Hopkins was a force to be reckoned with both in surgery and in medical politics. Born in Sunderland on 30 April 1932, Russell Hopkins went to school during the second world war, but had little academic interest except in arts and biology and some early amateur dramatics. His father died unexpectedly while he was in school, and he did not realise at first how impecunious this left his mother and the family. He had not put in much effort to his academic work but applied himself sufficiently to be offered a place in dental school in Newcastle. After passing 2nd BDS, he tried to transfer to the combined course for medicine and dentistry but was turned down as were most in those and later days.

After graduating, he took up short posts in dental practice in Hartlepool and Cambridge, where he practised his growing interest in general anaesthesia and then another post in dental practise in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). There he gave most of the GAs and did minor surgicals, but fate then took a hand again when his sister died, and he looked to return to the UK and change tack. He applied for a post as a senior house officer at Nottingham General Hospital in oral surgery and maxillofacial injuries and was appointed.

Russell would often say that he did not have good surgical training, but this was only part of the story. In Nottingham he worked for Tom Battersby, the first and most important influence on his career. There was just the senior house officer and one consultant treating a catchment population of 2 million. They did all the facial trauma, and Russell lived in the hospital, worked hard, learnt well, and had natural surgical talent. He …

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