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Synopsis

This book is the autobiography of one of the old style ‘general’ surgeons  -  those who could still cope with every sort of surgical work without needing to refer it to a specialist  -  the Compleat Surgeon of its title.

  Born in 1889, he started by getting first class honours at Cambridge in each of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, whilst also taking his first and second MBs over a period of only four years before going to St. Thomas’s Hospital in London in 1913. 

  There he went into Casualty before going out onto ‘The District’ (Lambeth) to qualify as a House Surgeon /Casualty Officer.  Completion of this part of his training coincided with the outbreak of World War 1.  Taken into the RAMC, he was sent to work on a hospital ship for Indian soldiers, at a casualty clearing station in France and in a hospital in Aldershot.  In the midst of all that he married the Irish nurse whom he had met at Addenbrookes Hospital and to whom he had got engaged whilst at Cambridge

   During the war, those senior surgeons at St. Thomas’s who passed the pre-war age limit of 60 were retained,  but when the war ended, they all retired, leaving a fair number of posts to be filled.  He was appointed to be an Honorary Surgeon.  Honorary indeed,  as with it came only a nominal salary.  To survive he needed to set up for private practice and to take on work from more senior surgeons, work that might be less skilled, but was essential to back up their practices as well as covering for them during weekends and holidays. 

  He was very successful and soon built up a private practice of his own with a house in Harley Street.  He describes the wide variety of the cases given to him, and those who came to him in his own practice.  From 1927 to 1960, he and another surgeon at St. Thomas’s, Peter H Mitchiner, wrote, and revised annually, a worldwide recognised book on surgery.

   Separate chapters describe his work in St.Thomas’s and other hospitals and in private practice and for various aspects of his work like night calls, the Metropolitan Police, the General Strike, the start of World War 2, nursing homes, the theatre, and Doctors, Doctors’ children, and women as patients, and hobbies like railways and  racing at Brooklands.

   Before he reached 65, the retirement age for NHS hospital surgeons, he read and passed all his law exams, and became Chairman of his local Bench. 

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