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Biographical entry Ratcliffe, Robert James (1957 - 2000)

MRCS and FRCS 1986; BSc Manchester 1978; MB ChB 1981; FRCS Edinburgh 1985.

15 June 1957
St Helens, Lancashire
19 February 2000
Hand surgeon and Plastic surgeon


Bob Ratcliffe was a consultant in plastic, hand and reconstructive surgery at Canniesburn Hospital, Glasgow. He was born on 15 June 1957 at St Helens, Lancashire, the son of Robert Ernest Ratcliffe, an electrician, and Jean Elizabeth née Worrall. As a child he was interested in mechanical objects, was extremely patient and had enviable manual dexterity, skills he would use in his later life. He went to Cowley Boys Grammar School, St Helens, where he gained the school physics prize, and the University of Manchester, where he took an honours BSc in anatomy, and gained honours in anatomy, pharmacology, pathology and surgery in the MB. He was a keen sportsman, enjoying rugby, skiing and hill-walking.

After graduating in 1981, he was a house physician at the University of South Manchester Hospital, and house surgeon at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. He then demonstrated anatomy under P F Harris while he studied for the primary. He did junior surgical posts at Manchester and at the Christie Hospital, where he became interested in reconstructive surgery after treatment for cancer. He was appointed registrar in general surgery in Manchester after passing his FRCS, and then specialised in plastic surgery at the Welsh Regional Centre for Plastic and Burns Surgery and Maxillofacial Surgery at Chepstow, where he became interested in hand surgery under Phil Sykes. He returned to Manchester as a senior house officer in plastic surgery in March 1988 at the Regional Centre for Plastic Surgery at Booth Hall Hospital, where he was influenced by Peter Craig. In November 1988 he was appointed registrar in plastic surgery at the West of Scotland Regional Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery Unit, Canniesburn Hospital, Glasgow, and two years later was appointed to the plastic surgery and jaw injury service at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury.

He joined the consultant staff at Canniesburn in 1993 as a consultant plastic surgeon with a special interest in hand surgery. Despite an ever increasingly clinical workload, he was also actively involved in administration and management. He was a member of the specialty board in plastic surgery for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and had been acting clinical director for the West of Scotland Regional Plastic Surgery Service.

He was actively involved in setting up a plastic surgical service in Ghana, spending his leave working there to build up the unit and train the staff.

In 1984 he married Karen Margaret Anne Todd, a nurse. They had two daughters, Katie and Hannah, and a son, Nicholas. He died while out hill-walking in Scotland, on 19 February 2000. A Robert J Ratcliffe fellowship has been established to assist trainees in plastic surgery.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Br J Plast Surg 2000 53 355-356, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England