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Biographical entry Jones, Ian Sutherland Midsom (1922 - 2012)

MRCS 1946; FRCS 1954; MB BChir Cambridge 1947; MChir 1960; LRCP 1946.

Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire
8 June 2012
General surgeon


Ian Sutherland Midsom Jones, or 'S-J' as he was always known in the hospital, served as a consultant surgeon to the Plymouth hospitals from 1959 until 1986, but continued in active surgical practice after retiring from the NHS, working in Singapore for 10 years. Ian was born in 1922, in Bassingbourn, near Royston in Cambridgeshire. His father was in Customs and Excise, and was posted to different locations in the UK. Ian went to Worcester Grammar School, where he did very well, and went on to Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

He undertook his clinical studies as a medical student at King's College Hospital in London during the Second World War, and then obtained some hospital experience in medicine and surgery at the Horton Emergency Hospital, Epsom. It was here he met Lyn, a theatre sister, and they married in 1947. He became a demonstrator in anatomy, and also worked with Archie McIndoe at East Grinstead and, after further training at King's, joined the Royal Air force as a surgeon for his deferred National Service, working at RAF Hospital Ely.

Other hospital appointments followed at Brighton and King's, before he was appointed as consultant surgeon to Plymouth in 1959. He recalled that most newly appointed consultants arrive with their families in their estate car; he arrived on a motor bike! He started work at the Royal Albert Hospital at Devonport, working with Michael Reilly, who was very hospitable to him and his family. He moved to Freedom Fields Hospital in 1962 when George Larks retired. He had bought 'Gratton', 117 Mannamead Road, as a home and consulting room, and he soon developed a busy surgical practice. In the late 1960s he and others worked hard to raise funds for the Plymouth Nuffield Hospital, which opened in October 1971, and he was the first surgeon to use the operating theatre there.

Ian was a surgeon that anaesthetists enjoyed working with. He was decisive, and a speedy, skilful operator. He was a very general, general surgeon, and would tackle anything with great technical skill. He particularly enjoyed urology, and was very innovative, learning and trying new techniques, as they appeared. He would have enjoyed the challenge of key-hole surgery, which came later. He became expert with a cryo-probe for treating benign prostatic hypertrophy.

A GP friend relates how Ian was always very kind and reassuring to both patients and GPs during domiciliary visits, when specialists went out to see patients in their own homes, and he was very kind to his junior staff, having them home to supper, making sure they got a good meal!

He retired from the NHS in 1986, aged 64, and went out to Singapore, acquired a flat in Orchard Road, and developed a surgical practice, working at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. He clearly wanted to go on with the work he loved, and he also enjoyed the lifestyle of the climate and the club, the golf and the tennis. He had many visitors, Lyn and the family going out to see him from time to time, and others who were passing through, including his brother, who was a veterinary surgeon in Australia.

Ian was a man of wide academic interests; he kept up to date with the journals, and enjoyed his classical music. He acquired three shops in the Barbican, selling prints and antiques, and became a friend of the artist Robert Lenkiewicz. He was a keen sportsman, and excelled at squash and tennis, and his golf handicap was down to nine. In the early 1970s he had bought some land at Crapstone, near the golf club, and decided to build his own house. This was a very hands-on approach. He once came into the surgeons' changing room, grinning and saying he had just bought a lorry and a concrete mixer! 'Medlars' became, and still is, a lovely family home. But that was not enough: he then built a house for a daughter in the grounds, and then sometime later helped his neurosurgical colleague, Dev Mohan, build his house.

In 1996 Ian returned to UK, having had 10 years in Singapore, saying he had enjoyed it, but had had enough of being away from home. Ian was a loving family man; he had been married to Lyn for 64 years, and had three daughters, Susan, Julia and Jane, four grandchildren, Alex, Christopher, Jonathan and Charlotte, and one great grandchild, Ian. He died on 8 June 2012, aged 90.

Michael Inman and Dev Mohan

The Royal College of Surgeons of England