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Biographical entry McGuire, Neil Gilbert (1919 - 2009)

MRCS 1943; FRCS 1949; MB BS London 1943; DLO 1955; LRCP 1943.

Simla, India
5 November 2009
Dudley, UK
ENT surgeon


Neil McGuire had a varied surgical career, ranging from active service in the RAMC during the Second World War, followed by general surgical training, 11 years in the Colonial Medical Service, further senior registrar posts (initially in cardiothoracic surgery, before changing to ENT surgery) and finally as a consultant ENT surgeon at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading.

He was born in Simla, India, on 30 August 1919. His father, Gilbert William McGuire, of Irish parentage, had served as a medical officer in France and Mesopotamia during the First World War, and later became a civil surgeon and assistant inspector general of civil hospitals in the Indian Medical Service. His mother, Dorothy Marguerite (née De Rhé Philipe) was a nurse in the Red Cross. Her father, of French-Huguenot parentage, was assistant judge advocate-general in the Indian Civil Service. McGuire was educated by Belgian nuns at the Sacred Heart Convent, Dalhousie, in the Himalayas and by the Irish Christian Brothers at St Joseph's College, Naini Tal, Himalayas. In 1937, he entered St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, which was in 1939 evacuated to Cambridge. He particularly valued the tuition of Hamilton, Hartridge and Paterson-Ross.

After qualifying in 1943, he became a house surgeon at the Royal Victoria and West Hants Hospital, Boscombe, before being called up in December 1943. He served as a captain in the RAMC and was regimental medical officer with forward units in the Normandy landings and throughout the European campaign. At the end of the war, McGuire was posted with the British Army of the Rhone (BAOR) and was involved in repatriation of Polish citizens.

He was demobilised in February 1947 and passed the primary FRCS in April 1947. He had an excellent general surgical training with Arthur Hill in Ipswich, passed the FRCS in 1949, and was well equipped to join the Colonial Medical Service in 1951. He initially served four years in Tanganyika, East Africa, where in Dar-es-Salaam he helped to establish a three-year training scheme for 'medical assistants' who were employed to staff small dispensaries in remote areas. Using some home leave in 1954, Neil McGuire chose to spend six months studying at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital for the DLO examination, which he gained in January 1955, before returning this time to Nigeria, West Africa. Further study leave in 1958 at Southampton Chest Hospital enhanced his experience of cardiothoracic surgery.

Nigeria gained its independence in 1961, and in 1962 McGuire returned to the United Kingdom to seek a new surgical life. He could have chosen any surgical specialty, but clearly was torn between cardiothoracic and ENT surgery, as he next became a senior registrar to the cardiothoracic unit at the London Hospital (from 1962 to 1963). Perhaps he foresaw that the prospects in cardiothoracic surgery were limited at that time, as later in 1963 he became ENT registrar to Esmé Hadfield at High Wycombe Hospital for six months, followed by an appointment as an ENT senior registrar to Hector Thomas at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary (from 1963 to 1966). He was appointedconsultant ENT surgeon at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading in 1966, where he specialised in hypophysectomy and pharyngo-oesophageal resections with colon replacement and researched into the possible prosthetic replacement of the oesophagus in pigs (Research in Veterinary Science, Vol.14, No.3, May 1973, p.358). He retired in 1984.

He was instrumental in arranging senior registrar rotations with first the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London, and, secondly, with the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.

Using his surgical experience with the micro-drill, McGuire developed the hobby of glass engraving and became a craft member of the Guild of Glass Engravers.

On 18 December 1943, McGuire married Alison Erna (née Liddell), who was a nurse at St Bartholomew's Hospital. She died in 1999 and on 4 April 2001 he married Elizabeth Isla Hayward, a retired consultant anaesthetist. Neil McGuire died at Russell's Hall Hospital, Dudley, on 5 November 2009 at the age of 90. He was survived by his second wife and by two sons (Michael Alexander and Timothy John) and a daughter (Shelagh Alison) from his first marriage.

Neil Weir

The Royal College of Surgeons of England