Geoffrey Chandler

Dr G N Chandler
Dr G N Chandler
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GEOFFREY Chandler, who was a well-known Consultant Physician in Leeds, has died aged 89. He was a man of considerable intellect, a large, engaging personality and an enthusiasm for all things which he directed particularly to medicine, and to his family.

Born in Brompton-on-Swale in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, for most of his childhood he lived in Worcester. He gained a scholarship to Worcester Royal Grammar School and in 1941 won the Weir Memorial Scholarship to University College Oxford. He enjoyed varsity life, both academic and sporting – he rowed and played cricket.

After qualifying he spent some time in Singapore as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He returned to his post at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, and it was there that he met his future wife Pamela, who was working as a ward sister. They married in Oxford in 1948.

In 1950 he moved to Leeds as a senior registrar, working much of the time for Doctor Hartfall, who was later to become a Professor, but was then a general physician and rheumatologist. Throughout his clinical life Geoffrey maintained an interest and expertise in rheumatology, but knew that his preferred speciality must be gastroenterology.

In 1953 he was appointed Research Fellow in Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He took part in the clinical gastroenterology service and conducted research studies into the absorption of fat from the small intestine. These studies were submitted as a thesis for his Doctor of Medicine qualification.

His reputation as a gastrointestinal physician of considerable promise led to an appointment at the Central Middlesex Hospital, working for Dr Francis Avery Jones, arguably the foremost gastroenterologist of his day. From there in 1962 he obtained the post of Consultant Physician in Leeds. Initially he shared his duties between Leeds and Wakefield. Later he concentrated on building up the medical services provided at Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds.

This he accomplished not only by dint of his considerable powers as a clinician, but also by hard work, organisational skills and by his ability to bring out the best in those who worked for and with him. He provided medical services of a very high standard and introduced a clinical efficiency which today’s NHS could only strive for.Communication was paramount to Geoffrey. Clinic letters, written in impeccable English, and ward discharge summaries arrived with the patients’ general practitioners within 48 hours.

His and Chapel Allerton Hospital’s reputation burgeoned. His comprehensive knowledge of medicine was maintained by an avid interest in medical literature, helped by an almost photographic memory allied to a keen analytical mind. Moreover, he read patients very well and knew how to talk to them. These qualities were recognised, and he became the doctor’s doctor.

He attracted the best of trainees. He taught them well by example and tutorial, encouraging them to engage in research projects. Their loyalty was returned, and he always took an interest in their immediate and subsequent careers. He started teaching sessions for GPs which proved so popular with doctors from Leeds and beyond into the West Riding that extra tutors became necessary.

Geoffrey was prominent in setting up and running, together with others, the West Riding Medical Research Trust. This Trust became very successful at raising funds and over many years its board sponsored a large number of clinical and laboratory research projects.

Geoffrey’s contribution to clinical medicine, to teaching and to sponsoring research was recognised when in 1994 a new postgraduate centre at Chapel Allerton Hospital was named after him. He had several papers published in the Lancet and his book on gastroenterology was published and translated worldwide.

Family was very important to him. He and Pamela raised four daughters who remember their childhood with fondness, recalling his sense of humour, get-togethers with family and a close knit group of friends, along with holidays in Ireland, Scotland and Portugal. He maintained his undergraduate interest in cricket, became a keen golfer, playing for many years off a handicap of 12, and when work and family allowed enjoyed salmon fishing.

He was an avid reader of modern literature and of current events. Conversation or debate with him was always stimulating, the result of his wide knowledge and his understanding of human nature. Almost daily he completed the Times crossword before his morning coffee was cold.

A few years into his retirement Pamela died, and in his loss he was sustained by his family, and by his friends. His many interests and resilience resurfaced, though regrettably he later had to give up golf. Until his recent illness his intellectual powers were undiminished. He continued to read medical literature; any doctors he consulted took great care and had to employ rigour in their pronouncements.

Always a staunch supporter of the NHS, he followed its course and progress assiduously, and would allow that some improvements were evident.

His family, the many physicians trained by him, those who worked with him remember him with fondness. He is survived by his four daughters, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.