Obituary - Dr Bryan Walton

1943 to 2017

Born the only son of very successful Shoe Shop owners, Bryan was educated at the City of London School. His passion for music of all genres made him firm friends with like-minded Scholars. His interest and length for the Biological Sciences made him an excellent candidate to study Medicine. He thus entered London University, The London Hospital School of Medicine and graduated MBBS in 1966.

Whilst 'doing' a three-month attachment as an undergraduate at a large Psychiatric Hospital, he found the work interesting, the medical staff enthusiastic, the food 'very good' and the sun seemed to shine all the time. However, after completing the statutory pre-registration posts he chose a career in anaesthesia.

Highly successful in registrar posts he gained the FFARCS in 1970 and was appointed to a Senior Registrar position at the London Hospital. Professor B Simpson enlarged his Academic Department of Anaesthesia, appointing several Senior Lecturers. Bryan Walton was one of these. Responsibilties included anaesthesia for cardiac department, supervision of the intensive care unit and research.

At this time in the world of surgery and anaesthesia there was a problem of jaundice after repeated anaesthetic episodes with the new and highly efficient agent 'Halothane'. Bryan was tasked with the system of collecting case histories, biological data, including blood tests, hepatic biopsies and in some cases post-mortem reports of patients who had allegedly suffered from 'Halothane Hepatitis'. He drove thousands of miles in his fast and elegant car to all parts of the UK. The data was collated and published in the BMJ. A seminal paper of which Bryan was the first author. This communication to a worldwide audience influenced the use  of Halogenated anaesthetic agents for two generations. Bryan gave the Keynote Address to the World Congress of Anaesthesiology in Brazil and later in Japan to many European meetings and a pivotal Lecture to the FFA course at the College. The title of this well received discourse was 'Immunology and the Liver'. The first acknowledgement of the importance of the new science of Immunology in clinical practice.

His academic career gave way to his appointment to the consultant staff at the London Hospital. He continued to develop and teach a system of anaesthesia for cardiothoracic surgery and the ensuing critically important care. His skill and expertise was in great demand throughout London Hospitals. However, he tired of the unpunctuality of surgeons and their disregard for postoperative care. He resigned from the NHS concentrating his expertise and experience at one hospital where he was in constant demand and was Director of the ITU and member of the Management Committee. He taught a system of anaesthesia which, in his own words, embraced the three 'Ss' – Safe, Simple and Certain.

He cared for the interests and professional development of the ODPs and the theatre and ITU nurses but, above all, he gave the patients his undivided attention. Bryan continued to develop his musical interests and espouse the use of fast but elegant cars.

Eventually he retired to the countryside continuing to exhibit his renowned DIY expertise on his splendid house and 'small estate', aiding his wife, Heather, breed and train gun dogs. He admitted the dogs had more rosettes than he had.

John Simpson