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Biographical entry Sankey, Joseph Nicholas (1900 - 1947)

MRCS 12 November 1925; FRCS 10 June 1926; MB BCh Birmingham 1923; LRCP 1925.

23 October 1900
Sutton St Nicholas, Herefordshire
20 December 1947
General surgeon and Plastic surgeon


Born 23 October 1900 at Sutton St Nicholas, Herefordshire. His father, a working man, had migrated to Canada as a boy, and his mother only returned to her native Herefordshire village for his birth, and afterwards took him back to Canada. Some good fortune in dealing with property enabled the family to visit England in 1914 shortly before the outbreak of war, and when his parents went back to Canada in 1916 Sankey was left at Newport Grammar School, from which he went on to the Birmingham Medical School. From this time forward he supported himself, for his father who worked as a builder in Vancouver was too poor to help him. Sankey worked at different times on farms and in factories and also made money as a violinist, while pressing forward with his education. After qualifying in 1923 he served as house surgeon, casualty house surgeon, and assistant in the gynaecological, skin, and venereal disease departments at the General Hospital, Birmingham. He took courses at the Middlesex and London Hospitals, served as house surgeon at the Royal Samaritan Hospital for Women, and resident medical officer at Queen Charlotte's Hospital in 1924, and took the Conjoint qualification in November 1925, proceeding to the Fellowship the following summer.

He was appointed assistant surgeon at the Queen's (now Queen Elizabeth) Hospital, Birmingham in 1932 and then went for a period to the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, USA, where he was inspired by the high professional standards of William and Charles Mayo. He was attracted to plastic surgery by the influence of T P Kilner, of Manchester and St Thomas's Hospital, afterwards Nuffield professor at Oxford. In due course he became surgeon to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, and surgeon to the Guest Hospital, Dudley; he was also plastic surgeon to the Birmingham and Midlands Skin Hospital. He was a member of the Midlands Medical Society. During the war of 1939-45 he turned his attention almost wholly to plastic surgery, working assiduously and very successfully with Harold Round at the Barnesley Hospital facio-maxillary unit. At the same time he carried on his other duties, considerably overtaxing his strength. He died suddenly of coronary thrombosis on 30 December 1947, aged 47. He was unmarried; his father survived him, with his sister and brothers.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1948, 1, 128 by Seymour G Barling, CMG, FRCS, with eulogy by H S Littlepage, LMSSA; Birm med Rev 1948, 15, 229, by L T Clarke, MRCS; further information from Seymour Barling].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England