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Biographical entry Bateman, Sir Geoffrey Hirst (1906 - 1998)

KB 1972; MRCS 1929; FRCS 1933; BA Oxford 1927; BM BCh 1930; LRCP 1929.

24 October 1906
Rochdale, Lancashire
17 September 1998
ENT surgeon


Sir Geoffrey Bateman was a distinguished ENT surgeon at St Thomas's, London. He was born in Rochdale, Lancashire, on 24 October 1906, where his father, William Bateman, was a general practitioner. His mother was Ethel Jane Scrimgeour. His elder brother, Donald Bateman, wrote a biography of Lord Moynihan. Geoffrey Bateman was educated at North Manchester Grammar School, going on later to Epsom College, where he was awarded the Da Silva scholarship to University College Oxford. At Oxford he won the Theodore Williams scholarship in anatomy. He went on to King's College Hospital for clinical studies and, after qualifying, he became house surgeon to the ENT department, where he worked for Sir Victor Negus, Walter Howarth and G J Jenkins. At that time it was the pre-eminent department in the country. He became a chief assistant to the ENT department at St Thomas's in 1934 and was appointed to the consultant staff in 1939.

The second world war interrupted Bateman's career as it had done for so many others just embarking on their consulting practice. He was a member of the RAF Volunteer Reserve and was immediately called for active service. He did not enjoy his service, although in later years he came to realise that the experience both of the need to improvise and organise had been valuable to him. He was a Wing Commander at demobilisation and returned to St Thomas's to resume practice. He worked steadily to improve the quality of service and the training of the juniors and, by the time he retired in 1971, the department had become renowned as a training centre for those wanting to enter the specialty. His principal interest in his specialist field was in trans-sphenoidal hypophysectomy and he acquired a considerable reputation in this field.

The administrative experience gained during the war stood him in good stead when it came to the planning and building of the new St Thomas's and he was a member of the rebuilding committee for 15 years. In 1971 he performed the 'topping out' ceremony for the new hospital shortly before he retired from the staff.

He was an active member of the sections of otology and laryngology of the Royal Society of Medicine and in due course was elected as President of the section of laryngology. From 1966 until 1971 he was consultant adviser to the Department of Health in the specialty and was also consultant adviser to the Army. His services to his hospital and the specialty were recognised in 1972 by the award of a knighthood. For many years he served on the council of the British Association of Otolaryngology, as honorary secretary from 1959 to 1964, and as President from 1970 to 1971. He acted as consultant adviser to the Department of Health for five years until his retirement in 1971. From 1961 to 1978 he served as treasurer to the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund and was instrumental in restoring the organisation to a sound financial position. In addition to his other commitments he edited the Journal of Laryngology from 1961 to 1978.

Geoffrey Bateman was a reserved man and rather shy. He was very influential in the development of his specialty, but would probably have discounted the importance of his contribution. He married Margaret Turner in 1931 and they had three sons, Christopher, Robert and Nigel, and one daughter, Susan. Christopher and Nigel followed their father into the medical profession. On retirement in 1971 he moved with his wife to Sussex, where he enjoyed his golf and his journey to Scotland to fish for salmon on the Dee every year. He died on 17 September 1998 survived by his wife, children and several grandchildren.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 15 October 1998].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England