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Biographical entry Waugh, William (1922 - 1998)

MRCS 1945; FRCS 1948; MB BChir Cambridge 1945; MChir 1952; LRCP 1945.

17 February 1922
21 May 1998
Accident surgeon and Orthopaedic surgeon


William Waugh was Professor of Orthopaedic and Accident Surgery at Nottingham University Medical School. He was born on 17 February 1922 in Dover, where his father, also William, was a general practitioner. He was educated at Eastbourne College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, going on to win an entrance scholarship to King's College Hospital Medical School. There he won the Legg prize in surgery. In those student days he already showed many of his outstanding characteristics. He always set himself the highest standards, and used his enquiring and critical mind to find out the best solution to any problem. This serious underlying streak in his nature by no means prevented him from being a popular social figure and stimulating companion. He was good with his hands in a practical sense and showed himself to be an accomplished artist.

After the usual round of junior appointments in the King's sector and passing the FRCS, he entered the RAF as a surgical specialist serving at Wroughton and then Aden. He returned to King's in 1950 as an orthopaedic registrar and later a senior registrar, in which post he passed the Cambridge MChir, and spent six months as a clinical assistant at the Toronto General Hospital.

In January 1955, he was appointed first assistant in the Nuffield department of orthopaedic surgery at Oxford, where he continued until September 1957, when he was appointed consultant surgeon at Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital and Nottingham General Hospital. In 1977, he was appointed Professor of Orthopaedic and Accident Surgery at Nottingham University Medical School, a post he held until his retirement in 1984.

William Waugh was first of all a warm and considerate human being and secondly an accomplished, caring and highly regarded surgeon. His orderly mind made him an outstanding teacher. His academic bent made him an excellent member of the editorial board of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery from 1970 to 1974. His chief clinical interest was in the treatment of arthritis of the knee joint, about which he lectured and gave papers in Europe and North America. In retirement he wrote John Charnley: the man and the hip (London, New York, Springer-Verlag, c.1990), A history of the British Orthopaedic Association, the first 75 years (London, British Orthopaedic Association, 1993) and also edited the fourth edition of The whiskies of Scotland (New York, New Amsterdam, 1987).

His career was blessed by a very happy family life. In 1947, he had married a fellow student at King's, Janet McDowall, the daughter of the Professor of Physiology at King's College. They had two daughters and five grandchildren. William listed his hobbies and interests as being those of photography, gardening and architectural history, but anyone who knew him would have added life itself and the people around him. He died on 21 May 1998.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England