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Biographical entry Pollock, Alan Victor (1921 - 2006)

MRCS and FRCS 1948; MB ChB Cape Town 1943; LRCP 1948; FRCS Edin 1984.

10 September 1921
Johannesburg, South Africa
19 January 2006
General surgeon


Alan Pollock was a consultant surgeon at Scarborough Hospital, Yorkshire. He was born on 10 September 1921 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and went to school and University in Cape Town, where he graduated in medicine in 1943, winning a medal in surgery along the way. After house appointments he joined the South African Navy and was seconded to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve with the rank of surgeon lieutenant.

Demobilised in 1946, he emigrated to the UK, and initially worked for a year in experimental pathology with Howard Florey’s group in Oxford. During this time he was an author of two research papers on antibiotics, both published in Nature. Despite his auspicious beginning in laboratory work, he decided that surgery was more his bent. He obtained a resident appointment at Westminster Hospital, where he was greatly influenced by Sir Stanford Cade, a leading cancer surgeon. Then followed a series of posts at St Peter’s and St Paul’s Hospital, St Mark’s Hospital and the West London Hospital, before he moved north to a senior lecturer’s post in Leeds. There he came under the influence of John Goligher, whose teaching of colorectal surgery caused this subject to become a particular interest. In 1958, he was appointed consultant general surgeon to Scarborough Hospital, Yorkshire, where he remained for the rest of his career.

During his consultant years, and after he retired from clinical work, Alan Pollock’s early interest and ability in research never left him. Although working in a non-university hospital, together with his research associate Mary Evans, he produced a constant stream of research papers on topics as diverse as pre-operative bowel preparation, surgical incisions, wound drains, approaches to achieving haemostasis, different suture materials and techniques, and anaesthetic techniques. A key interest throughout his career was prevention of post-operative morbidity and to this end he, with Evans, conducted many randomised controlled trials into different antibiotics and antibiotic regimens for reducing post-operative infections as well as trials into different methods of reducing post-operative deep vein thrombosis. He was the author of several books. The dedication in one reads: ‘I dedicate this book to all my registrars, who have taught me how little I really know’. Not surprisingly, he was a regular contributor to scientific meetings both at home and abroad, especially in the United States, where he was well known.

He was an active member of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, serving on the council for a period, as well as the Royal Society of Medicine, sections of surgery and coloproctology, as well as with groups interested in infection.

Married to Hilary née Grant, he had two sons and a daughter, none of whom followed him into medicine. He will be remembered by many as a very clubbable man, often wreathed in pipe smoke, who showed how a questioning and determined district general hospital surgeon could contribute top class research at an international level. Sadly, his last years were clouded with progressive motor neurone disease, from which he died on 19 January 2006.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2006 332 918].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England