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Biographical entry Jones, Peter Ferry (1920 - 2009)

MRCS 1943; FRCS 1948; BA Cambridge 1940; MB 1943; MChir 1956; FRCS Edin 1962.

29 February 1920
London, UK
17 October 2009
General surgeon


Peter Ferry Jones, clinical professor of surgery at the University of Aberdeen, was an outstanding surgical craftsman, a major academic contributor to coloproctology and paediatric surgery, as well as a renowned teacher of operative surgery. He was born on 29 February 1920 in London, the son of Ernest Jones, a bank official, and Winifred Ferry, a nursing sister and matron in the British Red Cross. Peter Jones was schooled at Mill Hill, winning the Old Millhillians’ Literary prize in his final year. In 1937, he proceeded to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was a major exhibitioner, and thence to St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School. Here he won the Bentley prize in 1941 and the Matthews Duncan gold medal in midwifery, before qualifying in 1943 and being appointed as a house surgeon. He then joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in the Middle East between 1944 and 1946 with the rank of captain.

On demobilisation, he decided to pursue a career in surgery and undertook various training posts, principally at Bart’s and the North Middlesex hospitals, passing the FRCS in 1948. From 1951 to 1953, he was a surgical tutor at Bart’s, coming under the influence of Sir James Patterson Ross. In 1953 he was appointed as a senior registrar to the Middlesex Hospital surgical rotation, where he was greatly influenced by Peter Gummer at the Central Middlesex and Oswald Lloyd-Davies at the Middlesex, the latter teaching him the meticulous surgical technique which was to become his trademark.

In 1957, he was appointed as a consultant surgeon to the Aberdeen General and Special hospitals with a mixed practice of adult and paediatric surgery. He continued to practice both adult and paediatric surgery throughout his career. In both spheres he made major academic contributions, publishing numerous papers as well as textbooks. He had a special interest in the acute abdomen and his textbook Emergency abdominal surgery in infancy, childhood and adult life (Oxford, Blackwell Scientific, 1974, 1987; London, Chapman & Hall, 1998) went through three editions. His published work covered such diverse subjects as recurrent small bowel obstruction, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal haemorrhage, colorectal cancer, maldescent of the testis and vesico-ureteric reflux. In 1966, he was appointed as a clinical reader in surgical paediatrics in the University of Aberdeen in recognition of his contributions to paediatric surgery. In 1983 was appointed to a personal chair in clinical surgery. His surgical distinction was recognised more widely by his appointment as surgeon to the Queen in Scotland between the years 1977 to 1985.

Throughout his consultant career he was especially noted for teaching his trainees both the art and the craft of surgery, always instilling in them the same attention to operative detail that he himself had acquired in his early training. He also played a full part in the wider world of surgery, being a keen member of the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons and the Mason Brown lecturer for 1986. At various times he was an examiner for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, a member of the Specialist Advisory Committee in General Surgery and a member of the executive of the education sub-committee of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1990 he was appointed by the latter organisation as the British Journal of Surgery travelling fellow and lecturer. He had previously been a visiting lecturer to the University of Natal, South Africa, and the Monash University Medical School in Melbourne.

Peter Jones was a quietly spoken man, modest in manner, a good listener and a man who seemingly had infinite time for others. He was committed to the NHS and wrote that he was sad to retire on reaching the age of 65, but perhaps not so sorry to know the telephone would not ring in the middle of the night. His interests outside of surgery were dinghy sailing, boat building and surgical history. In retirement he wrote a monograph on the history Scottish surgery from 1837 to 1901, helped to establish a hospice in Aberdeen, and created a wonderful garden in collaboration with his wife Margaret, née Thomson, whom he had married in 1950. They had four children, Katharine (a teacher), Timothy (a general practitioner), Janet (a horticulturist) and Andrew (a consultant in accident and emergency medicine). He died of a stroke on 17 October 2009.

Sir Barry Jackson

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2010 340 1011].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England