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Biographical entry Wyatt, Arthur Powell (1932 - 2009)

FRCS 1960; MB BS London 1955.

14 October 1932
Hornsey, Middlesex, UK
11 October 2009
General surgeon


Arthur Powell Wyatt was a consultant surgeon in the Greenwich health district. He was born in Hornsey, Middlesex, on 14 October 1932. His father, Henry George Wyatt, a medical missionary in China, died as a neutral during the Sino-Japanese War in 1938. His mother, Edith Maud née Holden, also a missionary, was a teacher. Arthur spent his early childhood in China, before returning to England in 1940 to attend Eltham College, then the school for the sons of missionaries. During the war it was evacuated to Taunton School and afterwards returned to Eltham. Wyatt entered St Bartholomew's Hospital, qualifying in 1955 with the Walsham prize in surgical pathology.

After junior posts, he passed the FRCS in 1960 and became a lecturer in surgery at St Bartholomew's for two years. He then became a senior registrar at King's College Hospital, from which he was seconded to the post of postgraduate research surgeon at Moffat Hospital, University of California, San Francisco (from 1965 to 1966). In 1967, he joined Austin Wheatley at the Brook General Hospital to establish a vascular service, his experience at St Bartholomew's under Taylor, in San Francisco and at King's making him almost uniquely qualified for such a position.

Austin Wheatley died prematurely in 1969 and was replaced by Arthur Wyatt, Mervyn Rosenburg and Ellis Field in 1970. They soon established the Brook as one of the places in London in the 1970s for young surgeons to establish their credentials in surgery. The hospital provided a wide range of experience with a heavy emergency workload.

Arthur proved a master at difficult and complex operations, having wide experience in pneumatosis coli, oxygen therapy, transhiatal oesophagectomy for carcinoma, thoracic sympathectomy for axillary hyperhidrosis and introducing new methods of fixation for rectal prolapse.

He took a full and active part in hospital management, as well as being a regional adviser in general surgery for the South East Thames Region. He was an active member, secretary and president of the surgical and proctological sections of the Royal Society of Medicine. He was a member of the Court of Examiners of our College. He was well recognised locally and became president of the West Kent Medico-Chirurgical Society.

Like his parents, Arthur was a committed Christian, and was active in the Christian Medical Fellowship. After retirement, he retraced his Chinese experience to re-establish links with that country. He developed his long term interest in gardening. It was while establishing his new garden that he became aware of the tumour which eventually proved fatal. He accepted the diagnosis with calm bolstered by his Christian faith. He died on 11 October 2009 and was survived by his wife, Margaret Helen née Cox, whom he married in 1955, and their three sons, John, Robert and Andrew. A son, David, predeceased him.

Christopher Russell

Sources used to compile this entry: [Ernest Alexander Payne, Harry Wyatt of Shanis, 1895-1938 (London, Carey Press, 1939); BMJ 2009 339 5165].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England