Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Parkhouse, Helen Fitzmaurice (1956 - 2010)

MB ChB Birmingham 1978; FRCS 1982; FRCS (Urol) 1989; FEBU 1992.

5 February 1956
30 June 2010
Chelwood Gate
Urological surgeon


Helen Parkhouse was a well-respected urological surgeon, a senior lecturer with honorary consultant status in the department of urology at St Thomas' Hospital, London. Born in Manchester into a non-medical family on 5 February 1956, Helen was the only daughter of Austin Fitzmaurice, a shopkeeper, and Margaret Fitzmaurice née Graham, a housewife. She had two younger brothers, Anthony and David. She was educated at St Hugh of Lincoln Primary School and then Loreto Convent School in Manchester. Here she had a good academic record and gained the school prize for physics and became deputy head girl. She then proceeded to Birmingham University for her medical education.

When qualified she became a house physician at the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton, to W A Hudson, a consultant cardiologist, and followed this with her first surgical posts, as a house surgeon to J B Marczak, a general surgeon, and then to J W Jowett, a thoracic surgeon. With the intention of training in surgery, she spent six months as a senior house officer at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, gaining experience in the accident and emergency department under the supervision of R B Duthie and J Cockin, J Spivey, D J Fuller and J Kenright.

She studied for the primary FRCS while she was a resident medical officer at the London Clinic. In order to gain more experience in the generality of surgery, Helen spent a year as a senior house officer at Kingston General Hospital with WJ (Bill) Bradfield, Paul Jarrett, Graham Farrington and Muriel Waterfall. She then gained valuable experience at registrar level in general surgery at the Cheltenham General Hospital working with Peter Boreham, John Fairgrieve and S Haynes. It was during this post that she was successful in the final FRCS examination, and met her future husband, then a houseman.

Helen then entered a two-year rotating registrar post based at St Thomas' Hospital from 1982 to 1984. The first year was spent at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, where she worked in general surgery with Michael Williams, Robert Heddle and Richard Collins. She gained her first experience of pure urology at St Thomas' Hospital with Kenneth Shuttleworth, Wyndham Lloyd-Davies and Michael Bultitude. This confirmed Helen's desire to specialise in urology. To this ends, she wisely obtained a two-year research post at the Middlesex Hospital under the guidance of Richard Turner-Warwick and Euan Milroy, until April 1986.

It was during this period of research that she investigated bladder dysfunction in Parkinson's disease and various aspects of urinary incontinence. Some of her early papers were written at this time, and numerous presentations were given to learned societies at home and abroad, particularly in the USA. She was the main author of some of these.

She then had a spell as a senior house officer in paediatric surgery at Great Ormond Street for Sick Children, working with Philip Ransley and Patrick Duffy. In July 1986 she became a clinical lecturer at this institution, a post she held for over a year. She was then a senior registrar in paediatric urology for eight months. This broadened her urological experience, and made it possible for her to publish further papers and give lectures.

In 1989 she was a Hunterian professor, the same year as her husband. Proceeding to a further senior registrar appointment at St Bartholomew's Hospital, she worked with Bill Hendry, Hugh Whitfield and Roger Kirby. She passed the relatively new diploma of FRCS (Urol) during this year, and the stage was set for her to apply for consultant posts.

She first became a senior lecturer with consultant status at St Thomas' Hospital. The following year she was appointed to Mount Vernon Hospital for three years, having some sessions at Hillingdon Hospital, Uxbridge. In 2002 she held a consultant urologist post at Benenden Hospital, Cranbrook, Kent for a year. As a consultant she was joint author of Color atlas of urology (second edition, London, Wolfe, 1994) and, with Krishna Sethia, produced Urology (London, Mosby-Wolfe, 1995).

After 18 years in the NHS, she then decided to practise exclusively in the private sector, specialising in female urology. She was initially based at the London Clinic and then had rooms in Harley Street and was a consultant urologist at King Edward VII's Hospital (Sister Agnes) in Beaumont Street, London, and the Lister Hospital. She also consulted at the McIndoe Surgical Centre, East Grinstead, Sussex, and the Nuffield Hospital, Haywards Heath. She also carried out medico-legal work, and was a practising member of the Academy of Experts from 1990.

Helen was a member of numerous learned societies, including the British Association of Urological Surgeons, the International Society of Urology and the International Continence Society, and was an associate member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She was a regular contributor at all of them. From 1985 to 1996 she read some 20 papers and had three poster presentations, both at home and abroad. She was a strong supporter of the urology section of the Royal Society of Medicine and became a member of the council.

Helen was a good athlete and excelled at tennis at club level. She enjoyed skiing, particularly at the yearly 'uro-ski' meetings of the section of urology of the Royal Society of Medicine. Other outside interests included the governorships of two schools, Cumnor House School, Danehill, and Burgess Hill School for Girls. She enjoyed opera and was a regular supporter of the Glyndebourne Festival. She had a passionate interest in helicopter flying and held a commercial pilot's licence.

She married Nicholas Parkhouse, a plastic surgeon, in 1986. They had four children - Emma, Clare, James and Tom. Perhaps Helen would have described her role as a mother as being her finest achievement. Tragically, she died in her sleep at home in Chelwood Gate, near Haywards Heath, on 30 June 2010, aged just 54. This was almost certainly due to a sudden and complete heart block. Nick awakened in the morning to find his wife dead by his side.

N Alan Green
Nick Parkhouse

The Royal College of Surgeons of England