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Biographical entry Tracy Forster, Rodney Vincent (1918 - 1999)

MRCS and FRCS 1957; MB ChB Liverpool 1942; DLO 1947.

28 October 1918
25 November 1999
ENT surgeon


Rodney Vincent Tracy Forster was an ear, nose and throat surgeon in Southport and Sefton. He was born on 28 October 1918 in Warrington. He was the son of Louis Edward Tracy Forster and Helen Gertrude née Berry. His mother's father was a well-known general practitioner surgeon in Wigan. Tracy Forster's father had started to study medicine at Liverpool University and changed to dental surgery. His uncle, Harry Forster, began to study engineering at Liverpool University and changed to medicine, where in due course he became a consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon on the staff of Liverpool Royal Infirmary.

Rodney was educated at Ampleforth College and developed there such a lasting affection for the school and community that he visited annually for the rest of his life. On leaving school, he decided to study medicine and enrolled in Liverpool University, where he qualified in 1942. After six months as a house surgeon at the Infirmary, he joined the RAMC and served in India and Burma. He had sinus problems and from this he developed his interest in otolaryngology.

On leaving the Army, he returned to Liverpool as a house surgeon to the ear, nose and throat department staffed by his uncle and John Roberts at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary and obtained his DLO. He was then appointed as a senior hospital medical officer at Southport Infirmary, but was anxious to have full consultant status and studied for the Fellowship of the College. The papers he wrote for the examination were accepted by the examiners as a model of clarity and were shown, without naming the candidate, to those studying for the examination. He was 39 when he passed the Fellowship examination and was duly awarded full consultant status. He remained as consultant surgeon at Southport Infirmary and the Walton Hospital and its branches for the next 26 years in the National Health Service, putting in many hours over and above his sessional contract. For many years he was single-handed at Southport and handled all the emergency work himself.

Rodney Tracy Forster was a tall good-looking man, with a dignified manner and a very kindly disposition. He dressed impeccably and bought his clothes in Saville Row. He drove a Bentley - at one time he had two and this, somehow, seemed entirely appropriate. He had a big private practice and this was due in part to the enormous amount of time he devoted to his work and the rapport he had with the general practitioners, and in part too his ability to explain clearly the reasons for his advice to the patients who consulted him.

Throughout his life he took an interest in mechanical engineering and particularly in cars and model trains. The entire attic of his home in Rainhill was laid out with a complicated system of model railways. He was a very competent engineer and maintained his early motorcars himself, and was not daunted by the need to install a new engine if required.

His clarity of mind produced clear concise notes and, in later life, he was frequently called upon to act as an expert witness in medico-legal cases. In 1952, he married Norma Croft. There were four children of the marriage, none of whom entered the medical profession, although his daughter, Jane, who was called to the Bar, has made a reputation in the field of medical negligence. He died on 25 November 1999 after a long illness in which he was constantly supported by Norma and his many friends. He will be remembered for his sense of humour and the immense amount of hard work that never ruffled his courtesy to or compassion for his patients.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2000 320 944, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England