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Biographical entry McVey, Ian Lumsden (1927 - 2008)

MB BS Melbourne 1949; FRCS 1955; FRACS 1958

23 May 1927
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
8 December 2008
Mornington, Victoria, Australia
General surgeon


Born in Brisbane, Ian Lumsden McVey's early schooling days were spent in Queensland. The family subsequently moved to Melbourne and he finished his schooling at Wesley College.

He began medicine at Melbourne University, being a student at the Alfred Hospital and graduated MB BS in 1949 was subsequently Resident and Registrar at the Alfred in 1950 and 1951 and Associate Surgeon in 1952-1954. At the same time he was demonstrator of anatomy at the University, and won the Sir Gordon Taylor Prize for Excellence in The Primary Fellowship Examination in 1953.

He travelled to England to further his studies, he worked at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London (with Sir James Patterson Ross who was then President of the Royal College of Surgeons of London), obtained FRCS in 1955 and finished his United Kingdom training as Registrar at the West Middlesex Hospital.

He returned to Melbourne and was appointed Honorary Surgeon to Outpatients at the Alfred Hospital in 1957 obtaining FRACS in 1958. He was subsequently appointed Honorary Surgeon to Inpatients and Head of the Unit at the Alfred in 1965, a position he held until 1983.

During this period he proved himself a skilful, often conservative and thoughtful surgeon. His main area of clinical interest was in diseases of the breast and to whom credit must go for the initiation of a multidisciplinary breast clinic. The profession however, was not yet ready for that, so it struggled for a few years and never obtained the status that he had envisaged.

His lectures to his students and nurses, were always clear, and given his command of the language and caring approach were always popular - particular his lectures to the nursing staff.

He was Examiner in Surgery at Melbourne University and latterly at Monash University.

In 1983 the Motor Accident Board (now the TAC) and the Staff nominated Ian to be Director of the Road Trauma Service - a position he held until 1996.

His ability to organise and obtain the desired result was apparent. With the assistance of initially Bill Dott and later Alex Rollo and support of his life long secretary Pauline Smith, the revolutionary Helipad structure of the Trauma Centre and its organisation and reception of casualties became a reality and the Alfred Hospital became the prime centre for management of road trauma in Victoria.

Appointed to the Consultative Council on emergency and critical care, he was pivotal in the development of trauma services in Victoria and the Road Trauma Centre at the Alfred Hospital remains a monument to him.

During this time he was appointed Associate Professor to the Department of Forensic Medicine at Melbourne University and co-ordinator of the Professional Practice Program.

During a career studded with Committee work, he was a member of the Alfred Board of Management and Vice President from 1987 to 1994.

He was a member of the Council of AMA (Victorian Branch) from 1963 to 1978 and President in 1973. He was a member of the Medical Practitioners Board, member of the Council of the Medical Defence Association of Victoria and its President in 1973-1990. A member of the Medical Benefits Schedule Advisory Committee meant that he was involved with the development of the Medicare Schedule and in addition he was a member of the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria. He was Chairman of Victoria Medical Insurance Agency and Director of Professional Indemnity Insurance Company of Australia and subsequently was instrumental in establishing the Medical Indemnity Protection Society when the United Kingdom based Medical Protection Society withdrew from Australia.

He was appointed Senior Consultant Surgeon to the Royal Australian Navy in 1962.

He was a master of organisation and committees. He had the ability to think on his feet, and could influence a meeting. He had a strong and clear vision for the profession - a facility which on occasions upset his colleagues.

He married Norma Hayden a Senior Staff Sister at the Alfred, and together they developed a property on the Mornington Peninsula raising Murray Grey cattle - he became president of the Murray Grey Society and was influential in consolidating its position and development.

He was a man of great vision with strong beliefs in the rights and also the responsibilities of the profession ¬ particularly the surgical profession. A was a most generous host and strong believer in the beauty and benefits of rural Australia.

He and Norma sold the farm at the turn of the century and built a residence in Mornington where Norma resides. He is survived by Norma, his brother Dan, daughter Ann and two grandchildren.

Cass McInnes

Sources used to compile this entry: [Republished by kind permission of the President and Council of The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons from In Memoriam (].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England