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Biographical entry Walsh, John James (1917 - 1992)

FRCS by election 1969; MB BCh BAO Cork 1940; MD NUI 1963; FRCP 1975.

4 July 1917
31 December 1992
General surgeon, Medical Officer and Orthopaedic surgeon


Jack Walsh was a doctor's son born in Cork on 4 July 1917. He was educated at Mungret College and University College Cork, where he qualified in 1940. After a series of junior surgical posts in and around London during the war, he joined Ludwig Guttmann's team at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville. He was appointed SHMO there but was made a consultant when that grade was abolished. He became expert in the general surgical care of paraplegics and in particular in the treatment of pressure sores. He was appointed deputy to the somewhat dictatorial Sir Ludwig in 1957 and applied in practice the principles laid down by his chief. He was founder member of the International Medical Society for Paraplegia in 1961 and was appointed an honorary consultant to the National Centre for Paraplegia in Ireland. His book Understanding paraplegia (1964) was widely read.

When Sir Ludwig retired in 1966 he insisted that Walsh should succeed him in the Director's chair, a position which brought him many honours, including the FRCS by election in 1969 and the FRCP in 1975. His period of office was not, however, an unqualified success: he never fully gained the confidence of his senior colleagues and the future of the unit was at one time in doubt. He retired in 1977 to take up a consultancy at the Paddocks Private Clinic in Princes Risborough.

He married in 1946 Joan Reesdale, by whom he had three sons, James, Jeremy and John, and a daughter, Jacqueline. Joan predeceased him. In retirement, he was a keen fisherman and enjoyed the Buckinghamshire countryside. He died on 31 December 1992.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Daily Telegraph 6 January 1993].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England