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Biographical entry Scott, Sydney Richard (1875 - 1966)

MRCS 1899; FRCS 1902; MS 1904; LRCP 1899.

1 June 1875
4 February 1966
ENT surgeon


Sydney Scott was born in Shrewsbury on 1 June, 1875. He studied medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital, and immediately after qualifying with the Conjoint Board Diploma in 1899 joined up as a civil surgeon in the South African Field Force, and was awarded the Queen's Medal with three clasps. When the Boer War ended in 1902 he returned to Bart's to be house-surgeon to Sir Henry Butlin, and in 1902 he passed the London MB BS with honours and was awarded the gold medal. In the same year he passed the Fellowship, and in 1904 graduated MS London.

The next step in his surgical training was a period as demonstrator of anatomy at St Bartholomew's and it was at that time that he came under the influence of Charles Ernest West, the first surgical otologist to the Hospital. In 1908 Scott was appointed assistant surgeon to the ear department, West being the senior surgeon. Their collaboration was significant in that they developed the technique of trans-labyrinthine drainage for meningitis secondary to labyrinthitis and they published a text book on the operations of aural surgery in 1909.

In 1914 Scott served in the RAMC and was in France early enough to qualify for the Mons Star. He worked for a time at the Duchess of Westminster's Hospital at Le Touquet, but later, though still in the Army, he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps as a member of the Aeronautic Medical Investigation Committee established by the MRC to examine the problem of vertigo in relation to flying. His important researches formed a report to the Medical Research Committee and were also incorporated in the official medical history of the war.

In 1921 he succeeded West as senior surgeon to the ear department at St Bartholomew's and he also held appointments at the National Hospital, Queen Square; St Andrew's Hospital, Dollis Hill; the Evelina Hospital for Sick Children, and the Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital. His appointments and distinctions were not limited to clinical work, for he was secretary to the Section of Otology at the International Congress of Medicine in 1913, and a delegate to the International Congress of Otoloryngology in Berlin in 1936. He became President of the Section of Otology of the Royal Society of Medicine.

He retired from Bart's in 1940, and went to live near Andover. Still keen to be of service, especially during the war, he became a medical officer in the Hampshire Home Guard. As a younger man he was an enthusiastic motorist and golfer; but unfortunately as age advanced he suffered from deafness which could not be relieved even with modern hearing-aids, and he had to be satisfied with tending the ducks, geese and hens in his own paddocks, which certainly gave him much enjoyment.

His natural reserve and shyness interefered with didactic teaching, but his gentle skill, and sound surgical management of the complications of ear disease provided magnificent training for a succession of house surgeons and assistants, with whom he delighted to keep in contact.

Shortly after the end of the Boer War, in 1901, he married Ethel Baker, and they had three sons and one daughter. One of the sons, Philip Geoffrey Scott, became ENT Surgeon to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. His wife died in 1958 and Sydney Scott himself died at his country home on 4 February 1966 at the age of ninety. The year before he died he made a handsome gift of money to the Royal College of Surgeons, and it was characteristic of his diffidence that he stipulated that it should remain an anonymous donation until after his death.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit Med J 1966, 1, 547; Lancet 1966, 1, 440].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England