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Biographical entry Booth, John Barton (1937 - 2005)

MRCS 1963; FRCS 1968; MB BS London 1963; LRCP 1963; MRAeS 1988.

19 November 1937
22 July 2005
ENT surgeon


John Barton Booth was a consultant ENT surgeon at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospitals. He was born on 19 November 1937, the son of Percy Leonard Booth and Mildred Amy née Wilson. He was educated at Canford School and at King's College, London, where he became an Associate (a diploma award given by the theology department), flirted with politics (the Conservative Party) and law, but in the end qualified in medicine.

After house appointments at the Birmingham Accident Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, he started ENT training at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital. He subsequently became a senior registrar at the Royal Free Hospital, working with John Ballantyne and John Groves, and for one day a week he was seconded to the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases as clinical assistant to Margaret Dix, who was famous as an audiological physician with a particular interest in balance problems. The influence of these mentors very much guided John into a career in otology and he later confirmed his position in that field by being elected a Hunterian Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons. His lecture was based on his work on Ménière's disease.

He was appointed consultant surgeon to the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital and consultant ENT surgeon to the London (later Royal London) Hospital and subsequently to the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew's. John was never happy with the fusion of the Royal London and Bart's, particularly as the ENT department was relocated at Bart's. He was appointed as a civilian consultant (otology) to the RAF, which gave him the opportunity to practise otology in Cyprus for two weeks in June every year.

John Booth had a strong Christian belief and moral code, which underpinned his life. He was always immaculately dressed, precise in his manner, thoughtful in his approach to problems and determined in his belief that a job should be well done and with no half measures. He was always a person who could be relied upon, which explains the succession of responsible positions he held. He edited the Journal of Laryngology & Otology from 1987 to 1992, as well as the volume on diseases of the ear in two editions of Scott-Brown's Otolaryngology. For the Royal Society of Medicine he was president of the section of otology and council member, honorary secretary and subsequently vice-president of the Society. For the British Academic Conference in Otolarynoglogy he was honorary secretary of the general committee for the eighth conference, becoming chairman of the same committee for the ninth.

John inherited the significant voice practice of his father-in-law, Ivor Griffiths, and continued his association with the Royal Opera House, the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain, the Concert Artists Association and the Musicians Benevolent Fund, until his retirement in 2000. In addition, he was honorary consultant to St Luke's Hospital for the Clergy.

John had a great interest in the history of his specialty and in art. He was able, with Sir Alan Bowness, to combine these two interests in a publication on Barbara Hepworth's drawings of ear surgery, which appeared as a supplement in the Journal of Laryngology & Otology (April 2000).

He married Carroll Griffiths in 1966. They both enjoyed playing golf, either at the RAC Club or on the Isle of Man, where they retired. John took great pride in his membership of the MCC and the R and A at St Andrew's. On retirement he switched from ENT and became a physician at St Bridget's Hospice in Douglas. He managed to combine part-time work at the hospice with the care of Carroll, who had been ill for eight years. She died on 3 July 2004 and John died of a massive coronary thrombosis on 22 July 2005. He left their son, James.

Neil Weir

Sources used to compile this entry: [Who's who 2005; J Laryngol Otol 2005, 119, 841-842.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England