Nottingham Hospitals History

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BRENDAN JACOBS

President of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society

1983 - 1984

Those meeting Brendan Jacobs for the first time might be forgiven for imagining him to be a Cambridge don. The enigmatic smile of welcome, the cultured words of greeting, the flowing white hair, coloured shirt and sports coat all seemed to fit the bill! The first impression would of course be incorrect for Brendan was a respected partner in a busy practice in Arnold, a bustling working class suburb of Nottingham. He became President of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1982/3 and still claims to look back in some awe and amazement at being invited to take up the office.


Brendan Jacobs was born in Dublin and educated at Oundle and Cambridge. He completed his clinical studies at the Westminster Hospital qualifying Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians in 1944.


From 1944 to 1951 he undertook posts at the Westminster Hospital, Kent and Canterbury Hospital, and the Westminster Children's and a 6-month course in Obstetrics at the Rotunda Hospital Dublin. A period of National Service intervened from 1945 - 47.


In 1953 Brendan and his wife decided that General Practice was to be their future and Brendan was lucky enough to be accepted by a practice in Nottingham. One of the partners was Dr, Jon Graham, with whom Brendan immediately established rapport. Their subsequent friendship resulted in what they claimed was the basis for a respected Practice. The practice had a long history of single-handed doctors working from and living in the same house - Arnold House on Church Street. The practice moved to the Health Centre on High Street and by the time Brendan retired the Practice had grown to a seven partner teaching practice.


For Brendan who had had 15 years or so as a Nottingham GP the coming of the new Medical School with associated departments and staff provided a fresh stimulus. The Nottingham Vocational Training Scheme (VTS) developed from the early 70s and, on his own admission, with some trepidation Brendan Jacobs became one of the early trainers. This was the embryonic germ of the University Department of General Practice, which was to grow from strength to strength over the next three decades. The attachment of students and postgraduates was, in Brendan's view, one of the best preventatives of partners becoming stale.


In the late 1950s and early 1960s the psychoanalyst Dr Michael Balint of the Tavistock Clinic, became well known for his interest in what the GP can do for the wide variety of neuroses and the high prevalence of hidden emotional disorders. Having read his seminal work- The Doctor, His Patient and The Illness - Brendan was hooked. After rigorous inquiry about reasons for wanting to join his seminar group at the time Brendon went to weekly sessions for a year. It helped him to practise a part of General Practice that he had never learned in Medical School.


Brendan Jacobs became a member of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society, then based at 64 St James St, Nottingham in 1954. He remembered well the lanternslides, the tangle of wires to trip over, the uncomfortable chairs - but a most attractive Georgian House. Before the coming of the Medical School the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society was almost the only facility for postgraduate study for GPs. It was, and still is, a good place for doctors of all disciplines to meet each other and benefit from a "getting to know each other " kind of way. As Honorary Secretary in the 1970s he found the job of (amongst others) of summarising the wisdom of the visiting lecturers ' words for the Minute Book a challenge and good for the "listening ear".


This latter topic he took for the subject of his Inaugural Address to the Society entitled "Visual Language" which was very well received, as was the remainder of his programme. Many will recollect with delight the talk given by his old friend P D James (later Baroness James), the detective storywriter. It was possibly one of the shortest given to the Society - but undoubtedly one of the best!


A cultured man of wide interests, Brendan Jacobs personified general practice at its very best. In his retirement, he continues to contribute wise thoughts to the journals and can be found swimming every morning in the local pool.   


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