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Biographical entry Calvert, Paul Thornton (1949 - 2004)

MRCS and FRCS 1978; BChir Cambridge 1973; MB 1974; LRCP 1978.

17 March 1949
7 May 2004
London, UK
Orthopaedic surgeon


Paul Calvert was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at St George's Hospital, London, and at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. He was born on 17 March 1949, the son of John Calvert, a civil engineer, and Barbara, a barrister. He was educated at the Dragon School and Rugby, where he excelled in all court games, especially rackets. He later went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read natural sciences. After his first year, when he played hockey, rackets and real tennis (for which he was later awarded a blue), he changed courses to read medicine. He later went on to Guy's to do his clinical studies. After qualification and house jobs, he and Deborah, whom he married as a student, went to Vancouver, Canada, where he spent a year on rotation as a surgical resident.

On his return to the UK, he worked for a while as a general surgical registrar, before specialising in orthopaedics. He was then a senior house officer at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, subsequently becoming a registrar and then senior registrar. He became interested in the shoulder after working with Lipman Kessel and later with Ian Bayley.

After serving as senior surgical officer at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and as lecturer to the professorial unit, he was appointed consultant orthopaedic surgeon to the Hinchingbooke Hospital in 1985. But, finding he missed the excitement of a teaching department, he transferred to a consultant post at St George's Hospital in 1986.

The shoulder firm at St George's rapidly expanded under his leadership, with the development of arthroscopic surgery and shoulder replacement. Reluctantly, he dropped his paediatric orthopaedic commitment, but he continued to be involved with trauma and covered general orthopaedic emergencies. He was the lead surgeon at St George's dealing with the aftermath of the Clapham rail crash in 1988. In 1993, he took on sessions at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital to work with Ian Bayley.

He published a number of important papers, particularly on shoulder topics, including papers on habitual instability and on the consequences of the Clapham rail crash. He maintained his interest in teaching and was Chairman of the regional specialist training committee. He was appointed trainer of the year by the British Orthopaedic Trainees' Association. He negotiated with the Department of Health on behalf of the British Orthopaedic Association to increase the number of orthopaedic surgeons in training.

In 1999, he was found to have an ocular melanoma. Despite the effect it had on his eyesight, he continued to work to enlarge the orthopaedic department at St George's. He also built up a successful private practice, both in Wimbledon and at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in St John's Wood, to whose hospice ward he asked to be admitted shortly before he died. He took early retirement at Christmas 2003, and died on 7 May 2004 of secondary melanoma. He left his wife, Deborah, and two children. His sister, Sandra Calvert, is also a consultant at St George's. The new orthopaedic operating theatres at St George's have been named after him.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2004 329 354, with portrait; The Times 9 June 2004].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England