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Biographical entry Taor, Richard Ernest (1940 - 2014)

BSc London 1964; MB BS 1967; MRCS LRCP 1967; FRCS 1973.

13 August 1940
Chesterfield, Derbyshire
1 March 2014
General practitioner and General surgeon


Richard Taor was a medical leader in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and contributed significantly to the setting of standards for measuring and ensuring the quality of medical care in western Newfoundland. He was an assistant professor with the medical school at Memorial University in St John's, Newfoundland.

He was born on 13 August 1940 to Ernest and Muriel (née Lowe) Taor. His father was a civil engineer and worked with the Ministry of Defense. He attended Sutton County Grammar School and helped the family by working at various jobs at weekends. One of his jobs was selling confectionary items on Saturday afternoons at the local football ground. Since he was allowed to eat as much as he wanted and still get paid, this was his favourite job.

After completing his secondary school education, Richard received a scholarship to attend university. He enrolled at London University and spent two years focused on physics. On a visit to his brother, William, studying medicine at Charing Cross Hospital Medical School, he became aware that there was a vacant place in the medical school for the following year. His application was accepted and in 1962 he started studies in anatomy, winning the Murray prize in 1963 under the guidance of William James Hamilton. After completing his BSc in anatomy, he received a postgraduate scholarship and worked with Murray L Barr in London, Ontario, Canada, where he participated in cytogenic studies resulting in two published papers. He completed his MB BS in 1967. His older brother (who also gained his FRCS) and younger sisters, Lesley Muriel and Helen Jennifer, all graduated from Charing Cross Hospital Medical School.

In 1970 Richard became a surgical registrar at St Helier Hospital in Surrey, where he worked for several years. He successfully completed his FRCS in 1973.

In 1977 Richard decided to explore new opportunities and moved to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, to work as a surgeon, general practitioner and provide obstetrical services to an immediate population of about 13,000. Richard quickly decided that rural Newfoundland provided him with the opportunity to expand his medical skills in an environment that was medically and socially very much in tune with his soul. He struggled through many difficult times when it was almost impossible to hire and retain doctors and other professional staff in rural Newfoundland.

He became the rock on which the community depended for continuing medical care. To Richard, the care of his patients was paramount. He believed in and completed many continuing medical education programs. He was appointed chief of medical staff at the Dr Charles L LeGrow Heath Centre and in that role was the leader in establishing processes to look at standards of care within the hospital and achieving the highest quality based on best practices. To improve his administrative skills he successfully completed the management program for clinical leaders from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, as well as a program from the physician leadership institute of the Canadian Medical Association. As services became more regionalised, Richard became deputy chair of the Western Newfoundland Medical Advisory Committee and served on many committees and through this contributed his experience and skills to governing the provision of health care within all the hospitals, clinics and long term care facilities in the region.

In 1981 approval was given by the provincial government to design and build a new 50-bed hospital in Port aux Basques. Richard was totally involved in the planning and design for the new building and spent many hours briefing architects and medical design consultants on the needs and requirements of all of the medical and other clinical services which the hospital should provide. As construction proceeded he kept a watchful eye to ensure the final product would best meet the needs of staff, patients and the community. The new hospital opened in 1984.

Richard realised that to successfully recruit and retain medical staff it was necessary to maintain a high quality of care standards and become involved with Newfoundland's medical school at Memorial University in providing practical training and research opportunities to medical students and general practice residents. He worked with the university in designing and implementing these practical training programs at the Dr Charles L LeGrow Health Centre. He was appointed a student preceptor in 1980 and was appointed as a clinical assistant professor (family practice) in 2000. As a consequence of the relationship Richard built with the university, and his leadership, internships were developed in a number of related health disciplines and saw the health centre becoming a centre of excellence in primary health care and in implementing a nurse practitioner program throughout Newfoundland.

Richard retired in 2011 and his contribution to his community and province was recognised in the provincial House of Assembly and nationally in Canada's House of Commons. He was not designed for retirement. After working all his life with long hours and total commitment to his patients, he found it very difficult to adjust.

In 1969 Richard married Magda Kovats of Budapest, Hungary, who was a staff nurse at Charing Cross Hospital. They had two children, Fiona and Christopher. Other than family, Richard's passions included sailing, formula one racing and curling. In January 2014 he became sick and was admitted into the hospital to which he had dedicated so much of his life. He bore his illness with his usual great dignity and fortitude, and succumbed to his illness on 1 March 2014. He was 73.

Bryson Webb

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Gulf News 12 September 2011 - accessed 29 April 2015; records of proceedings House of Assembly, Newfoundland and Labrador and House of Commons, Canada; correspondence from Memorial University; Dalhousie University; Canadian Medical Association; personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England