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Biographical entry Painter, Neil Stamford (1923 - 1989)

MRCS and FRCS 1956; MB BS London 1952; MS 1962: DRCOG 1954; FACS 1971.

23 February 1923
6 August 1989
General surgeon


Neil Stamford Painter was born in London on 23 February 1923, the only son of Robert Painter, a consulting engineer, and Dorothy, née Matthews, a concert soprano. He was educated at St Michael's School, Otford, Kent and obtained a scholarship to Woodbridge School, Suffolk. On leaving school he entered the Fleet Air Arm as a pilot serving from 1941 to 1946; he was mentioned in despatches for operations in the Aegean in 1944 and later provided air support for the invasion of Rangoon.

On demobilisation he entered St Bartholomew's Medical School, qualifying in 1952. After junior posts at various London hospitals he was appointed prosector in the department of anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons under Professor G W Causey in 1955 and, in the following year, after passing the FRCS he became registrar to the surgical professorial unit of St Bartholomew's Hospital under Sir James Paterson Ross and Professor G W Taylor. During these years he maintained his association with the Channel Air Division of the RNVR and continued to fly until 1957 when the weekend squadrons were disbanded.

In 1959 he became senior registrar at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, where, under the supervision of Dr S C Truelove he studied the pressure in the colon in healthy patients and those afflicted with diverticular disease and undertook research into the effects of drugs on these pressures. He was thereby able to demonstrate the mechanism responsible for the production of diverticula, publishing the results in Gut, his MS thesis and in his Hunterian lecture in 1963.

Two years later he was appointed consultant surgeon to Manor House Hospital, Golders Green, while there, in addition to an active professional life, he pursued his research on colonic pressures, publishing papers on the effects of dietary fibre and the value of bran in diverticular disease. His book, Diverticular disease of the colon: a deficiency disease of Western civilization, was published in 1975 and revolutionised the therapy of the disease. He travelled widely attending international meetings and was elected a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He served as a Council member and Vice-President of the Section of Surgery of the Royal Society of Medicine.

He married Joyce Constance Wright in 1954 and they had two sons both of whom are engineers. His main hobby was photography which was a continuation of some of his work in the Fleet Air Arm when aerial photography was part of his duties. He died suddenly on 6 August 1989.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Daily Telegraph 16 August 1989; Lancet 1989, 2, 574].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England