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Biographical entry Vaughan, Sir Gerard Folliott (1923 - 2003)

Hon FRCS 1993; MB BS London 1947; DPM 1953; MRCP 1949; FRCP 1966; FRCPsych1971.

11 June 1923
29 July 2003
Politician and Psychiatrist


Sir Gerard Vaughan was a former Minister of State for Health in the Thatcher government. He was born on 11 June 1923 in Mozambique, Portugese East Africa, the son of a Welsh sugar planter who was more interested in big game hunting than sugar and was later killed in the RAF. Gerry was educated by a series of governesses, notably one Mafeta, who coached him through the matriculation at the age of 14. At first he wanted to become an artist and enrolled at the Slade and St Martin’s School of Art, but as war broke out he entered Guy’s Hospital to study medicine, helping in the casualty department during the Blitz.

After qualifying, he became a house surgeon to Russell Brock, who encouraged him to become a surgeon, but suggested he learn some medicine first and take the MRCP. While doing a medical registrar job at the York clinic he became fascinated by psychiatry and went on to the Maudsley Hospital, returning to Guy’s as a consultant psychiatrist. There he became interested in the treatment of children and adolescents, particularly those with anorexia, and was responsible for the establishment of the Bloomfield clinic at Guy’s.

Always interested in politics, Gerry sat on the London County Council as alderman for Streatham, becoming chairman of the strategy and planning group, and in 1970 he was elected MP for Reading. He was one of Ted Heath’s whips, and was Minister of State for Health for five years, first under Patrick Jenkin and later under Norman Fowler. He was knighted in 1984 on being dropped from the government. His views were on the extreme right, and among other things he championed homoeopathy.

He died after a long illness on 29 July 2003, leaving a wife, Joyce Thurle, whom he married in 1955, and a son and daughter.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2003 327 452, with portrait.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England