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ALFRED ARTHUR EDMUND NEWTH


(1887 - 1958)


President  of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society


1946 to 1947.


Alfred Arthur Edmund Newth:- 28, Chaucer Street, Nottingham. Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (London), 1912; Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery, Society of Apothecaries, London, 1911; Diploma in Public Health, Oxford, 1923 (Westminster Hospital); Senior School's Medical Officer, Nottingham; Honorary Captain (Late R.A.M.C.); Fellow of the Society of Medical Officers of Health, and President (1946-47) of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society; Member of the British Psychological Society. Formerly:- House Surgeon, Derbyshire Royal Infirmary and Wolverhampton General Hospital; House Physician, Westminster Hospital.



Medical Directory 1947.

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Alfred Arthur Edmund Newth was born in Sussex on September 17th, 1887, his father being a general practitioner at Haywards Heath. Educated at Epsom College and the Westminster Hospital, he qualified L.M.S.S.A. in 1911 and graduated M.B., B.S., in the following year. After holding house appointments at the Westminster Hospital, the Wolverhampton General Hospital and the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary he was appointed assistant school medical officer in Nottingham in 1914 and continued in the service to that of education authority until his retirement in 1954.


During the first world war he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1923 he took the D.P.H. of Oxford University, and shortly afterwards he was appointed senior school medical officer in Nottingham. An honorary fellow of the Society of Medical Officers of Health, he was a president of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society, and at the annual meeting of the British Medical Association in Harrogate in 1949 he was vice-president of the Section on Child Health. After retiring from the school health service he accepted an invitation to become a medical officer at Mapperley Hospital in Nottingham.


In an obituary a colleague wrote of Dr. Newth saying:- Dr. Newth was one of those with a naturally and persistently inquiring mind. If he felt that something needed investigating he would go to no end of trouble to complete the inquiries. His personal typist would often find herself involved in a questionary which had to go to many authorities or to experts on the subject. I well remember the interest he took in the question of physical examination prior to schoolboy boxing contests. He felt this was a waste of time, or, if it was not, then all youngsters prior to many activity involving hard physical work should have a physical checkup, and so where would it all end? In 1943 he revived the School Health Service Group of the Society of Medical Officers of Health, a group which was then almost non-existent, and become secretary, a post he retained until 1957. His special interest was in “handicapped pupils,” and in 1945 he was appointed by the Minister of Education to serve on the Advisory Committee on Handicapped Pupils. He realized that maladjustment was something which could be present in a child, and this encouraged him in 1937 to visit and inquire into the work of such child guidance clinics as were then established and finally to persuade his authority in 1938 that one was necessary in Nottingham. In 1952 he was awarded the  O.B.E., an honour he well deserved, for he had made himself one of the experts in the work of the school health service.


In 1949, faced with the choice of operation or deep x-ray therapy (Radiotherapy) for an illness, he chose the latter, facing the issue with that patient fortitude that was part of his nature. On recovery he came back to his office, and that was the end of it so far as he was concerned. When he retired in 1954 (the education committee had shown what they felt about him by retaining him for quite a long period beyond the usual retiring age) he could not sit back and take life easily, but went as a senior hospital medical officer to the local mental hospital, where he felt he could give something to the patients there, who quickly came to know him and to look to him for that cheerful encouragement which is so essential in that type of work.


In the same obituary another colleague wrote of Dr. Newth saying:- Dr. Newth early became an authority on the subject of school health, his work in child guidance being outstanding. His great knowledge of his chosen subject was always at the disposal of his colleagues and his opinion was also eagerly sought in official quarters. Among the innumerable committees which sought his attention membership of the advisory committee of the British Council for the Welfare of Spastics claimed his special regard. He was much in demand as a speaker, and took part, for example, in annual conferences of the British Medical Association and the Royal Society of Health. An able and prolific writer, in addition to many articles in the medical press he contributed the chapter on the school health services in Modern Trends in Public Health (1949). Dr. Newth’s successful effort, however, in resuscitating the School Health Service Group of the Society of the Medical Officers of Health in 1943 will remain his memorial. He took on the duties of secretary and did yeoman work to enhance the authority and prestige of the group. He was untiring in his endeavors, and his preparation of the papers for the meeting of the group was an indication of his energies and acumen. He had an excellent and well stored brain, and although he was meticulous in details the memoranda which he prepared for guidance had a lively style. He held this office with dignity. So much did his colleagues feel over his efforts for his group that a special dinner was held in his honour, when tributes of the most glowing kind were paid to him, and a token of their regard, to which very many colleagues over the country had contributed, was presented to him. As usual, his reply was modest and unassuming. Dr. Newth’s valuable help to the council of the Society of Medical Officers of Health was recognized by his election to the much-coverted distinction of honorary fellow. Locally he was held in high esteem by the medical practitioners and this resulted in his election as president of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society. His appointment as O.B.E. was very well received by a wide circle. His interests were not exclusively confined to the subject of school health: he played an excellent game of golf. He was also a skilled craftsman. In spite of his profound knowledge and erudition. He was a bon viveur, and his colleagues much enjoyed his company on social occasions.


The death of Dr. Newth occurred on 30th July, 1958; he was aged 70. It was said in his obituary: “The funeral service was held at St. Jude’s Church, Mapperley, Nottingham, when very many friends, including a group of nurses from Mapperley Hospital attended. They can to show their affection, and for the high regard in which he was held.”


BMJ., August 16th, 1958. Pages 452, 453.


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