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Biographical entry Morris, Edwin David (1928 - 2013)

MB BCh Wales 1950; DObst 1951; FRCS 1958; MRCOG 1960; MD 1969; FRCOG 1972.

31 July 1928
10 June 2013
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


David Morris was a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in London. David and his younger brother Gareth were the sons of the headmaster of a school in Briton Ferry, a small mining town in south Wales. David won a scholarship to Neath Grammar School but, with a family move during the Second World War, finished his schooling in Bridgend. He gained a county award, with which he entered the Welsh National School of Medicine, where he had a distinguished career, winning many prizes and also gold medals in anatomy and obstetrics. He qualified in 1950 with distinctions in anatomy and obstetrics and gynaecology.

After his resident appointments, during which time he gained his diploma in obstetrics, he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps for his National Service. He was posted to the Far East and worked in hospitals providing care to service and civilian patients. Later in life he was appointed as a consultant adviser to the Army.

Following his National Service, he completed his training for a career in obstetrics and gynaecology. He gained the fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1958, and became a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist in 1960. After registrar appointments at Guy's, he became the resident obstetrician at Queen Charlotte's (from 1962 to 1966). It was during this time that, in association with Richard Beard and Eric Saling, he helped change the management of labour with the development of foetal blood sampling to accurately assess the degree of foetal anoxia by taking a sample of blood from the scalp of the undelivered baby and, when appropriate, accelerating the delivery. This important research formed the basis of his MD thesis.

In 1966 he was appointed as a consultant at Swansea and, one year later, he was invited to apply for the joint consultant past in obstetrics and gynaecology between Guy's, the Chelsea Hospital for Women and Queen Charlotte's. He developed a special interest in gynaecological cancer, and at Guy's he founded the colposcopy clinic. He undertook complex surgical procedures and encouraged a multidisciplinary approach to the care of gynaecological cancer.

As an obstetrician he was an excellent teacher of practical obstetrics and a master of Kiellands forceps, an instrument with a reputation for being difficult to use but, when skilfully used by David, produced magical results!

He served as president of the section of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Royal Society of medicine. From 1975 until 1992 he was regional obstetric adviser on the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths. This is published every three years and seeks to establish the cause of these tragic events. From this experience he gained a reputation as a valuable opinion in medical negligence cases and the respect of the lawyers involved.
He was elected to the fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1972 and later served as fellows' representative on the council. He was also invited to become a member of the distinguished Gynaecological Visiting Society. David was also in private practice. He retired in 1992.

He was a sympathetic colleague, and cared about all those who worked with him, particularly those who sought his help when they were in difficulties.

Before choosing his profession, and at the time his family moved to Bridgend, he developed his interest in steam engines, possibly because Bridgend was on the main Great Western Railway (GWR) line and the trains were hauled by the impressive King class locomotives.

Music played a major role in his life. When he enrolled as a medical student he also joined a part-time music course. He had a fine voice, which, if fully developed, may have led to a career as a solo baritone. He enjoyed choral singing, jazz and Gilbert and Sullivan operas,

David was married to Barbara Evans. They had two children, Anne and Peter, who in their turn and with great joy presented them with grandchildren. Barbara was a general practitioner and also a skilled glass engraver. Sadly she died in 1999. In later life David's health was poor. He died on 10 June 2013 aged 84.

Michael Pugh

The Royal College of Surgeons of England