Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Griffith, Huw Bevan (1930 - 1993)

MRCS and FRCS 1961; MA BM Oxford 1955; MRCP 1958; FRCP 1977.

21 November 1930
General surgeon


Huw Griffith was born on 21 November at Tredegar. His father was a headmaster and former president of the National Union of Teachers, and his mother, Myfanwy, née Bevan, a teacher and member of the London County Coucil was the sister of Aneurin Bevan, Minister of Health from 1945 to 1950. From Lewis's Grammar School, Pengam, he went to St Paul's School, London, and on to Balliol College, Oxford, with an open scholarship. He gained distinction in anatomy and the Radcliffe Infirmary prize in medicine. He was influenced by Walpole Lewin, Ian Aird, Sir Ian McAdam, Joe Pennybacker, John Potter and others.

He served in the RAMC as a junior specialist in medicine at the Army Neurosurgical Unit at Wheatley from 1957 to 1959. After passing the MRCP and training in general surgery he spent a year at Makerere University, Kampala, and was senior lecturer at Manchester Royal Infirmary, before spending 26 years at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol. There he proved to be a great teacher and innovator. He pioneered the use of the brain scan and image transmission by telephone; endoscopy of the brain, in conjunction with Professor Hopkins of Reading University; original transnasal approach to the pituitary; new approaches to the acoustic tumour and microdiscectomy for lumbar disc prolapse, as well as setting up the British Journal of Neurosurgery.

Much in demand as a teacher, he went as visiting professor to Pahlavi University, Iran; Maadi Hospital, Cairo; Sri Lanka University; University Hospital, Lusaka; Karachi University and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi. He wrote numerous papers and chapters in major textbooks, and was a Hunterian professor in 1965.

In spite of his family background he appeared on the same platform as a Tory Minister of Health, William Waldegrave, in 1992 and openly and actively supported the Tory reorganisation and reforms of the Health Service. His response to accusations from the Left of treachery was that Aneurin Bevan would have been ashamed of the deterioration of the service and would have demanded radical action.

He was a keen sailor and furnished and rigged his 37 foot sailing boat, and modified it (and especially the keel) to his own design. He married three times: Margot Nicholas (1954) who died in 1987; then Christine Berkley (1988) dissolved 1990; and Rosemary Brooks (1993) who survived him, with a son and a daughter from his first marriage.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times, 13 September 1993, with portrait; Independent 8 September 1993; BMJ 1993 307 932, with portrait; Daily Telegraph 11 September 1993].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England