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John Rodney Cove-Smith

Consultant physician and nephrologist the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough (b London 1943; q Cambridge/St Thomas’s Hospital, London, 1968; MD, FRCP, FRCP Ed), died from metastatic prostate cancer on 3 February 2004.

Throughout his life, Rod combined academic achievement with sporting prowess and musical interests. While an undergraduate at Cambridge he played hockey for the University Wanderers, rugby for his college, and sang for Cambridge University Musical Society with his future wife, Jackie, also a medical student. After clinical training at St Thomas’s Hospital and junior posts in London and Dorset, he became senior registrar in renal medicine at Nottingham City Hospital, where he carried out research into analgesic nephropathy for his MD. He was seconded to Guy’s Hospital and then appointed consultant in Middlesbrough in 1978. A new hospital, now known as the James Cook University Hospital (JCUH), was being built and Rod joined its commissioning team. He continued active involvement in management, becoming chief of medicine and then associate medical director, alongside total commitment to patients and clinical medicine. He had the rare ability to handle a large workload with ease and enjoyed teaching students and junior doctors as well as examining and being regional adviser for the Royal College of Physicians.

He helped develop undergraduate medical training on Teesside and became honorary professor at Durham University in 2002. He headed the academic division at JCUH and saw completion of the academic centre and its library, named after him, a few weeks before he died.

He used his great ability to the full and gave his time unstintingly to his work, but also found time for an active and happy life outside medicine. He played hockey until diagnosed as having metastatic cancer aged 58, continued choral singing until the last few months of life, and worked until the week of his death. He leaves a wife, Jackie; three daughters; and a grandson. [Jackie Cove-Smith]