Nottingham Hospitals History

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FRANK HARWOOD JACOB


(1872 - 1952)


President of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society


1911 & 1927 - 1928

(Centenary year)


Frank Harwood Jacob:- 32, Regent Street, Nottingham. M.D., London, 1901; M.B., 1898; M.R.C.P. London, 1903, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., London, 1895 (Kings College Hospital) Warenford Entrance Scholarship; Sambrooke, Rabbneth, Cloth Workers Society; Junior and 2nd year Scholar. Honorary Physician (Late House Physician) General Hospital, Nottingham; Bacteriologist, City of Nottingham. Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine; Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society & Rontgen Society, London. Late House Surgeon & House Physician, Kings College Hospital & Physician, Nottingham Hospital for Sick Children


Medical Directory 1915


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Frank Harwood Jacob was born on October 4, 1872, the son of a Naval chaplain, and received his early education at King’s School, Ely. He gained the Warenford entrance scholarship to King’s College, London, and thereafter he won a remarkable series of scholarships and prizes during his pre-clinical and clinical studies. He qualified M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. in 1895, and, after holding the posts of house-physician and house surgeon at King’s College Hospital, became house-physician to the Nottingham General Hospital.


He graduated M.B. in 1898 and proceeded M.D. three years later. In 1903 he took the M.R.C.P., becoming a Fellow in 1921. When the honorary staff of the Nottingham General Hospital was expanded in 1901 Dr. Jacob became the first assistant physician. Four years later he was promoted to the full staff, and he continued to serve the hospital faithfully until his retirement, on reaching the age limit, in 1937. In 1947, in recognition of his wonderful service to the hospital, a medical ward, the newest in the hospital at the time, was named after him. Soon after  his first appointment to the honorary staff he began to build up a large consulting practice covering Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Rutland, Derbyshire, and parts of Leicestershire.


A member of the British Medical Association for over 50 years, Dr. Jacob was elected as the representative of his division to attend the first Annual Representative Meeting of the Association, which was held at Swansea in 1903, but had, for some reason not known, to send a letter of apology for his absence. In 1905 he acted as one of the honorary secretaries of the Section of Medicine at the Annual Meeting in Leicester, and he was president of the Section of Medicine at the Nottingham Meeting in 1926, serving also on the Arrangements Committee in that session. He was a staunch supporter of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society and was twice elected its president, probably a unique happening in the long history of the society.


Dr. P. H. O’Donovan writes:- To the sick Dr. Jacob was always kind and courteous. Perhaps a reason for his great success as a consultant was his effortless ability to inspire the complete confidence of both patient and practitioner. The frequency with which patients in all walks of life volunteered their absolute confidence in him was noteworthy. As a consultant he was the best type of general physician - always punctual, never hurried, remarkably accurate in diagnosis, endeavoring always to cement the confidence between patient and practitioner; and finally, giving advice, erudite or sensible, as the case needed. No wonder that in a public speech some years ago a surgical colleague said that no one in the East Midlands considered it correct to die without first seeing Dr. Jacob. He had a great sense of the high ideals of his profession and by example inspired his younger colleagues. On the fly leaf of a book he gave to me he wrote: “To love sick folk and to love helping them to give friendly welcome to our fellow travelers on the road of life - these are the ideals for all who work in and for hospitals.”


Many of his juniors have had great cause to be thankful for kindly counsel, given always with a paternal smile of encouragement. It is not to be wondered at that he was affectionately known as “Uncle Frank.” The mere accumulation of money meant nothing to him-in secret he was exceedingly generous, and probably never refused a request for help, not seldom himself paying for the treatment of a patient seen in consultation. In private life he was a man of simple tastes, taking little interest in food and drink, and, although fastidiously clean, was quite indifferent to the age of his clothes. He was fond of good music, and especially fond of the countryside, particularly Derbyshire: to him no music was lovelier than the wild whistle of the curlew or the low sweet song of a dipper.


When the Second World War came Dr. Jacob helped the local practitioners at Malvern, where only a short time before he had gone to live in retirement, by taking on the work of men absent in France. During his retirement, too, he wrote A History of the General Hospital near Nottingham, which was published in 1951, a book of over 350 pages which entailed work to a person no longer living in the locality. The hospital was founded in 1778 by John Key, a Yorkshire squire. It was written of this gentleman by his nephew: A man who was possessed of every virtue that signifies human nature, and where generosity and benevolence were always made to the distressed.” In turn this would seem a fitting epitaph for the great and lovable personality that was Dr. Frank Jacob.


Dr. J. Wilkie Scott wrote:- By the death of Dr. Frank H. Jacob, a distinguished and very lovable personality of Nottinghamshire has passed away. He preceded me as house-physician at the Nottingham General Hospital, and we were close colleagues for nearly 40 years. On starting practice in 1901, he was given a slender piece of bread and butter by the Nottingham Health Committee to undertake routine bacteriology. Up until that time nearly all pathological material, from both the city and the hospital, had been sent to London for investigation. His laboratory, thus opened, developed, still under his guidance, to become a full pathological service for the hospital, the county, and the East Midlands, being finally taken over by the hospital about 1920. He had also had installed the first private Xray plant in Nottingham, and this also developed into a service supplying the needs of practitioners in the city and county which he continued until after the First World War. All this is evidence of the profound influence he wielded in medical developments in the district, and in many other ways he was responsible for improvements, nowhere more than in planning for the betterment of conditions at the hospital, his main objective and consideration always being the good of the patient. He was possessed of a tenacity of purpose and capacity for unremitting work without which his many varied projects could not have materialized. His History of the General Hospital near Nottingham, written in a philosophical strain, and interspersed with descriptions of contemporary advances in medical knowledge and practice, make delightful reading, and shows from the references the deep and abiding stimulus he derived from the life and works of Louis Pasteur. Jacob had a first class brain, and, as was to be expected, became a most able, wise, and trusted physician. Although not attracted by social functions he was a fluent and attractive speaker and could grace the big occasion, for which he was much in demand. He was as indifferent to material advantage and worldly honours as he was to the cut and style of his apparel. Cheery and friendly in nature, and himself the soul of candour, nothing aroused his indignation more than any hint of prevarication or insincerity. He was not pre-eminent in games, but in his younger days would show a tough and vigorous side in rugby football, hockey, with the gloves, or in an early morning swim in the Trent. He had deep religious convictions, without parading them, and for years had a class of young fellows on Sunday mornings, whose interest he would hold with talks on nature and science and religion. In his busiest days he would find time to take most devoted care of his mother, over 90 years of age, and during the last few years he gave himself to the nursing and care of a very severely crippled sister, resolutely refusing to leave her even for a day. So he died, looking after others to the end.


B.M.J., December 13th, 1952, page 1312.


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