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Biographical entry Atkinson, David Worthington (1926 - 2012)

MB BChir Cambridge 1954; MRCS LRCP 1954; FRCS 1960.

5 March 1926
Chinley, Derbyshire
27 October 2012


David Worthington Atkinson was a consultant urologist in the north east Thames region. He was born in Chinley, Derbyshire, the son of John Atkinson, an industrial chemist, businessman and former captain in the Army during the First World War, and Florence Mary Atkinson née Worrall. His sister, Anne Mary, went on to become a reader in dental surgery at Sheffield University. Atkinson was educated at Buxton College, where he was head boy, and then went on to study modern languages at Clare College, Cambridge. He joined the Army in 1944 and served for four years in Malaya and Burma, becoming a captain in the Intelligence Corps. During this time his language skills were put to good use, and he completed an 18-month intensive course in Japanese at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Following his demobilisation, he returned to SOAS for two terms, before deciding to join the medical course at Cambridge, despite having no background in science. He was one of 40 ex-service students with arts backgrounds accepted to study medicine. He went on to clinical studies at Guy's and qualified in 1954.

He held house posts at Guy's and was then a senior casualty officer at St Olave's Hospital, Rotherhithe, and subsequently a resident surgical officer at Brighton General Hospital. He was a locum surgical registrar at various locations in London, and then a surgical registrar at Croydon General Hospital for two years. He was a resident surgical officer at Brompton Hospital for six months, and then became a thoracic surgical registrar at Guy's Hospital for 18 months.

While he was at Guy's as a student, he met and married Monica Cynthia Lewin, a Jamaican who also became a surgeon and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1962 they moved to Jamaica, where Atkinson was first a senior surgical registrar at the University Hospital, Kingston. A year later he became a lecturer in surgery at the University of the West Indies, and in 1966 a senior lecturer. From 1972 to 1974 he was a consultant urologist at the University Hospital.

The family went back to the UK in 1976, and Atkinson became a consultant urologist to the North East Thames Regional Hospital Board, at North Middlesex and St Ann's hospitals. For many years he was chairman of the surgical division of North Middlesex Hospital. He retired in 1991.

He had developed his interest in urology as a specialty while he was in Jamaica. He had one of the first fibreoptic cystoscopes and resectoscopes in 1962 and pioneered transurethral resection and Millins prostatectomy in Jamaica. He maintained an interest in the surgery of urethral stricture, sickle cell haematuria and the epidemiology of genitourinary tumours.

Outside medicine, he was fascinated by cricket. He represented London University, was captain of the Clare College team, and played for Guy's Hospital and the United Hospitals. In Jamaica he was medical officer to the Jamaica Cricket Association and looked after the West Indian and international touring teams. He was also a lifelong philatelist. From 1985 to 1990 he edited the British West Indian Study Circle Bulletin, which promotes the study of the stamps and postal history of the islands. He was an avid reader and had an extensive collection of books on cricket, naval history, Jamaica and Japan. On visiting Japan during his retirement he found he could converse in Japanese after more than 50 years, and this spurred him to return to learning the written language.

His wife Monica predeceased him in 1998. Atkinson died on 27 October 2012, aged 86. He was survived by his son David, daughter Mary and four grandchildren.

Sarah Gillam

Sources used to compile this entry: [Encyclopaedia of Jamaican Philately (EJP) David Worthington Atkinson - accessed 29 January 2015].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England