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Biographical entry Jackson, Harvey (1900 - 1982)

MRCS 1923; FRCS 1928; LRCP 1923.

16 October 1900
19 September 1982


Harvey Jackson was born on 16 October 1900 and educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He studied medicine at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School and qualified with the Conjoint examination in 1923. One of his obituarists states that he had qualified in dental surgery and supported himself while a medical student by doing part-time dental work, but there is no evidence of a dental qualification in contemporary records. He became honorary consultant surgeon at Acton Hospital in 1930, and honorary assistant surgeon at the West London Hospital in 1935 during which period he was noted for his keen and conscientious attendance whenever required. He then decided to specialise in neurosurgery and travelled extensively in the USA to acquire as wide experience as possible. On returning home he became a disciple of the late Percy Sargent and, in due course, together with Julian Taylor, succeeded him on the staff of the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square. He was also appointed as consultant neurosurgeon at St Thomas's Hospital and the Westminster Hospital.

A conservative surgeon of superb technical skill, neither audacious nor yet an exponent of the exceedingly slow methods of some of his contemporaries, his technique was compounded from what he believed to be the best of all that he had observed in the course of his travels. He was meticulous, neat and careful in his operative methods and sensitive to the needs of individual patients. He never embarked on any new procedure without considering its merits and demerits most carefully and was an indubitably safe surgeon. His trainees and assistants greatly admired these qualities and also the humanity and care which he lavished on his patients. He was a hard but completely fair taskmaster, loyal to his juniors and not sparing in their praise when this was fully deserved. He himself was a first-class 'all-rounder', but especially well known for his work on orbital tumours. He also co-operated with his psychiatric colleagues in the early days of neurosurgery for the psychotic patient. In association with the late Paul Wood, he also took a special interest in lumbar sympathectomy. He did some early work in the field of stereotactic surgery for Parkinsonism, favouring alcohol ablation rather than cryosurgery. He also had an ingenious technique for the removal of hydatid cysts. During the second world war he served as Director of the Emergency Medical Service Head Injury Unit at Hurstwood Park, Sussex.

Amongst his many distinctions, he was twice a Hunterian Professor at the College in 1947 and 1951. He gave the Elsberg Lecture in New York and lectured widely elsewhere abroad. For many years he was a visiting professor in Cairo. He was a founding member and later President of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons and also President of the Neurological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine. He was a very reserved and modest man, and a perfectionist who did not readily delegate responsibility, but this was chiefly due to his high sense of personal service to his patients. He was bedevilled by ill-health during his retirement but maintained his lively linguistic and engineering interests. He had married Freda in 1930 and when he died on 19 September 1982 he was survived by her and his two sons.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1982, 285, 1211, 1281; The Times 29 September 1982].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England