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Biographical entry Carling, Sir Ernest Rock (1877 - 1960)

Kt 1944; MRCS 14 November 1901; FRCS 8 December 1904; LRCP 1901; FRCP 1945; MB London 1902; BS 1903; Hon LLD Belfast; Hon FFR 1940; Hon FRSM.

6 March 1877
15 July 1960


Born on 6 March 1877, the third son of F R Carling JP of Guildford, he entered the medical school of the Westminster Hospital in 1895; in 1900, while still a student, he volunteered for the South African war, serving with the Imperial Yeomanry Field Hospital and returning to qualify in 1901. The following year he obtained honours and a gold medal in the London MB examination. After a series of house appointments and a period as demonstrator of anatomy, he was appointed to the staff of the Westminster Hospital in 1906. He was also appointed to the Seamen's Hospital at Greenwich and served as consulting surgeon to Chislehurst, Watford, and Hornsey Hospitals. Later he became consultant to King Edward VII Convalescent Home for Officers at Osborne.

In the war of 1914-18 he was mobilised as Captain, RAMC(T), with the 4th London General Hospital, later proceeding to Belgium and France as surgical specialist with the rank of Major. After the war he was a pioneer in the use of radium and in 1928 established a radium centre at the Westminster Hospital, setting up there with the help of his son, Francis Carling, the two original radium bombs. In 1929 he published a book of instruction on radium practice in association with J Paterson Ross, and he was made a member of the Medical Research Council and of the Radium Trust. In 1930 as dean of the medical school he rendered most valuable service in the planning and development of the new Westminster Hospital.

With the outbreak of war in 1939 he was appointed consultant adviser to the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Home Security and after the war took part in the Ministry's survey of the Hospital Services. He was deeply interested in the social aspect of medicine, being a member of the executive council of the Institute of Almoners, and was associated with the Nuffield Provincial Hospital Trust. He was a member of a number of committees connected with atomic energy, being chairman of the International Commission on Radiological Protection and the Radium Commission of the Central Health Services Council.

He was a wise and experienced examiner, having examined at London, Sheffield, and Edinburgh Universities. As a member for ten years and sometime chairman of the Court of Examiners his clinical acumen and administrative ability were universally acknowledged by his colleagues. He was vice-president of the Section of Surgery of the BMA in 1934 and a member of the Association's Fracture Committee. In 1942 he was elected vice-president of the Westminster Hospital in recognition of his services, with special reference to the rebuilding of the Hospital.

He was a popular and kindly man, despite his highly critical outlook, inspiring deep affection in all those who worked in association with him. He married Petra, daughter of the Rev E D Rock of Creeting St Peter, Suffolk, by whom he had two sons; she died in January 1959. He died suddenly at his home 49 Hallam Street, W1 on 15 July 1960. A memorial service was held in St Margaret's, Westminster on 3 October 1960.

Course of instruction in radium practice. 1929.
British Surgical Practice (with J P Ross). 1947.
British Practice in Radiotherapy (with B W Windeyer and D W Smithers) 1955. Ionising radiation and the public health. Harker Lecture 1956.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Ann Roy Coll Surg Engl 1960, 27, 296-298 by Sir Stanford Cade with portrait; Lancet 1960, 2, 213-215 with portrait and appreciation by AA, ASM, FHS, DWS, GMcL, N M Goodman, Sir James Paterson Ross, SC; Brit med J 1960, 2, 313-314 with portrait and appreciation by Sir C Price Thomas, p 396 by FHKG; The Times 16 July 1960, p 10 b with portrait, and 19th p 158 appreciation by ASM].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England