Monday, 24 September 2012

Dr Bill Foreman, Superintendent, Sully hospital

Dr Bill Foreman . Superintendent Sully hospital
Died 19 April 1976. Age 62.

Dr Bill Foreman (left) and Dr Len West walking in the grounds of Sully hospital ( circa 1960s).

 I am indebted to Dr Foreman's daughter, Jane, for providing me with the following  information.:

"A New Zealander by birth, he was known to all as Bill after the first day of the month when bills arrived though his real name was Harold Mason.

Born on 1 December 1913 Bill Foreman was educated at Takapuna Grammar School and Otago University where he won rugby blue for the New Zealand universities.

After house appointments in Auckland he enlisted in the New Zealand Medical Corps and was taken prisoner in Greece while remaining with those wounded who were too ill to be evacuated.

He volunteered to be transferred to a camp where Russian prisoners were dying from typhus, and, in spite of contacting the disease himself, remained there for two years.

He worked tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of fellow British POWs in the Polish town of Cosel.
and when the war ended he was awarded the MBE for his selfless work.

Throughout his life he was known for his great humanity and medical skill, often putting his own life in danger.

Dr. Bill Foreman and Dr. Len West with the team of doctors at Sully hospital.

After the war he trained as a chest physician at the Brompton Hospital.  He passed the MRCP in 1947 and was appointed physician superintendent of Sully Hospital in 1951.

There he was able to guide a team of physicians and surgeons in the control and cure of tuberculosis and then to develop a modern cardiothoracic unit while at the same time ensuring that his own humanity was reflected in the running of the hospital.

He knew all the staff personally and introduced many amenities that made life pleasant for them and easier for the patients and their relatives.

In his later years it was a matter of great sorrow to him to see the hospital gradually broken up and he continued to the last to fight for what he knew was best for his patients.

Bill was a man of great modesty.  He never spoke of his past career, but his eminence in his speciality was recognised by election as president of the Thoracic Society in 1972.

His knowledge of chest medicine together with his common sense and sympathy made him an outstanding colleague, but it is as a loyal and kind friend that he will be mourned by so many.

He bore his final illness with great courage, support by a strong Christian father and by his family, to whom he was devoted. Dr Foreman is survived by his wife and six children. "

Another lifelong friend, Archie Cochrane, added:

“I was privileged to know Bill Foreman for many years.  We met first in London in 1940 on a course for Army medical officers.”
We met again as prisoners-of-war in Salonika in 1941, and I was close to him and his family in South Wales for a long time. 

Throughout this long and varied period his cheerfulness and kindliness meant much to me, as to many others.  He was, I think, the kindest man I have ever known.”

Source: British Medical Journal, 29 May 1976- Obituary Notices  - H.M.Foreman MBE,MB,CHB,FRCP

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