Nottingham Hospitals History



President of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society

1988 - 1989

Bernard Spilsbury was brought up in rural Worcestershire and Educated at the King Charles 1st School in Kidderminster. From there he went on to Birmingham University to graduate MB ChB in 1951. He was a pre-registration house physician and surgeon in Birmingham at the West Hallam Hospital, West Bromwich before entering the Medical Branch of the Royal Air Force.

The RAF station at Newton provided Bernard Spilsbury with his first introduction to Nottingham, where he was to spend most of his medical career. After various locum posts he became a general practitioner in the Meadows, part of inner city Nottingham, in 1957 and worked there until his retirement in 1992. Whilst this area may have been “meadows” in the distant past, they were certainly not the idyllic pastures that the initial image might conjure up! It was a rough and tough area for a single-handed doctor to handle.

In 1966 he became Chairman of the Nottingham Division of the British Medical Association and was responsible for negotiating major changes and improvements for general practitioners. This was a time of much discontent within all branches of the profession and Bernard well remembers the verbal fisticuffs, which enlivened many of the meetings – at times the verbal fisticuffs verged on the physical! Nevertheless one of the important changes resulting from the negotiations at that time was open access to the hospitals for GP’s for X-rays and laboratory tests.

In the late 1960’s both Nottingham General Hospital and the Nottingham City Hospital were overstretched and overcrowded and the news that a new Medical School was to be built in Nottingham was received enthusiastically. The building of a large new hospital and teaching hospital complex (the Queen’s Medical Centre) together with the injection of new academic staff for teaching clinical services was exciting news. As a respected and experienced local general practitioner Bernard Spilsbury was appointed to Nottingham No.1 Hospital Management Committee to help co-ordinate many of these changes based at the General Hospital. He was one of an influential group of doctors who were able to forge a link between “Town and Gown.”

With an enviable knowledge of Nottingham and its history it was natural for Bernard to talk about the City in his Presidential Address to the Society. During the 1988/89 Session he saw the expansion of the charitable function of the Society, particularly for scholarships and help with student electives. Bernard Spilsbury continues to serve the Society as Senior Trustee when his wide experience is utilised to the full.

Having retired to the country Bernard still retains the affections of his many friends and colleagues. Brought up in a farming community he now enjoys village life to the full – departing to the mountains each winter for his skiing holidays.