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Biographical entry Fulford, John Collett (1919 - 1997)

MRCS LRCP 1942; MB ChB Birmingham 1942; FRCS 1948.

22 May 1997
Accident and emergency surgeon


John Fulford was the former director of Birmingham General Hospital's accident and emergency department and a consultant surgeon. He was born in Birmingham in 1919 and entered the medical school there in 1937. He had a most distinguished undergraduate career and qualified in 1942, after passing several subjects of the course with distinction. He was awarded a degree with first class honours, an unusual event at that time, together with prizes as the best student in the final examination and of the whole degree course. He was very sturdily built and an effective member of the university rugby club first XV. Under wartime regulations, he became a house surgeon whilst still a final year medical student.

He joined the RAMC on graduation and landed in Normandy on the day after D-day with an advance party. Subsequently, he became medical officer to the Parachute Regiment and insisted on completing a full course of training and obtaining his 'wings'. He later acquired an impressive collection of SS officers' ceremonial daggers, but was rather reticent on the details of how this was achieved.

Following his discharge from the RAMC, he was appointed surgical registrar at the General Hospital in Birmingham, a post that carried a heavy workload and provided extensive surgical experience, especially in emergency surgery. He was appointed a consultant surgeon and director of the accident and emergency department at the General Hospital in 1952.

Fulford had adopted a rather West Midlands vernacular, and was warm-hearted and possessed a charming smile. He was extremely popular with staff and students, and a much liked and effective teacher. He was an early advocate of the advantages of intensive care facilities, especially for the acutely injured, and was an early pioneer in the use of prostheses for fractured neck of the femur. For several generations of surgical residents his modification of the Thompson prosthesis was known irreverently as 'Fulford's knob'. Because of the large diabetic clinic at the General, he also became particularly interested in the surgical complications of diabetes.

Outside his professional commitments, his major interest was in the countryside. On their small farm, he and his wife, Ruth, bred and exhibited ponies and dogs, winning many prizes and also acting as judges at county shows. Sadly, his later years were clouded by a depressive illness. He died in his sleep on 22 May 1997, leaving his wife, three daughters and eight grandchildren, one of whom is a doctor.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1997 315 1382].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England