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Biographical entry Hoffman, Eugene (1914 - 1997)

MRCS and FRCS 1950; MD Prague 1939.

Zilina, Slovakia
3 January 1997
Thoracic surgeon


Eugene Hoffman was a consultant surgeon in the Middlesbrough area, specialising in thoracic surgery. He was born in Zilina, Slovakia, in 1914, the youngest of a family of five. He studied medicine in Prague before the second world war. In 1939 his parents were uneasy about the political situation - the frontiers were closed - but they sent the boys into Italy through a small Slovakian border crossing, ostensibly on holiday. Eugene wished to cross into France and join an army to fight the Germans. He made three attempts, two by water and one overland, but was caught and sent back to Italy each time. Eventually, just before war was declared, he went to the French embassy. They were busy packing up to go, but he managed to get a visa and went to France by boat quite legally. Once there, he looked around to see what he could join: he considered the French Foreign Legion, but they did not need doctors, so he joined the Czech Army as a medic. They were posted to Agde near the Spanish border and were later evacuated by the Royal Navy and brought to England. He stayed in the Czech Army until the end of the war and was then repatriated.

He worked in Prague and became assistant surgeon (senior registrar) in a leading surgical clinic. However, he was uneasy about the political situation in Communist Czechoslovakia and one day read in the Times that England was allowing foreign graduates to practice without taking basic English examinations. He at once packed his belongings, resigned from the clinic and drove to England.

He obtained a job at the Mildmay Hospital, where he had worked while in the Czech Army. He studied for and eventually passed the FRCS and then went to Shotley Bridge, where he specialised in thoracic surgery, working with George Mason, Selwyn Griffin and Raymond Dobson. He moved on, becoming a consultant at the Poole Hospital, Middlesbrough.

He campaigned for the treatment of road accidents in situ, on which he wrote extensively, being awarded an Hunterian Professorship in 1976. His vision for emergency treatment at the roadside is today realised in the paramedic ambulance service.

He married Betty, a consultant anaesthetist, in 1962. They had one daughter, Clare. He died on 3 January 1997.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Mrs Elizabeth Hoffman and Raymond Dobson].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England