Dr Peter Wentworth Thompson

Personal Details

Dr Peter Wentworth Thompson MBE MBBChir FFARCS MRCS LRCP DA

23/08/1925 to 25/11/2015

Place of birth: Hammersmith, London

Nationality: British

CRN: 724010

Education and qualifications

General education

King’s School, Ely (head boy); Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge; St George’s Hospital Medical School, London

Primary medical qualification(s)

MBBChir, Cambridge, 1949

Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Examination

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

BA, Cambridge, 1946 (MA, 1968); MRCS LRCP, 1949; DA(RCP&S), 1953

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

Early posts were house physician, St Mary Abbot’s Hospital, Kensington, resident anaesthetist, St George’s Hospital, London and registrar in Exeter before two years of National Service. He worked as a junior specialist at Colchester Military Hospital and, after discharge as a captain in 1954, was appointed to an SR post in Cardiff. In 1956 he was recalled to the RAMC as a senior specailst to serve with No 2 Casualty Clearing Station in the Middle East during the Suez Crisis of 1956. Returning to Cardiff, in 1967, he was appointed as a consultant to the United Cardiff Hospitals, later to the University Hospital of Wales,  and was a clinical teacher with the Welsh National School of Medicine. He retired in 1990.

Professional interests and activities

On becoming a consultant he quickly developed his main interest, the safety of equipment, this expressed through work on national & international standards and his own development work. This included an early contribution to a project relating to the delivery of non-explosive gas mixtures including cyclopropane, the delightfully named ‘Cardiff Cow’ (BMJ 1958; 1: 1376-8; Anaesthesia 1962; 17: 543-4), and the more widely applicable detachable vapouriser. This work earned him an MBE (1988) and a Distinguished Service Certificate from the British Standards Institute (1992). After his clinical retirement he continued to work on equipment, primarily for CEN, the European Committee in Brussels.

On the broader front he published widely, toured many countries to lecture on the practice & history of anaesthesia, and in the 1960s spent time in Lucknow, India to establish services & PG training. Having been in the very first group to obtain the FFARCS by examination he was later the first examiner for our fellowship to have acquired it by that route rather than election. Later he was a member of the board of faculty (1983-91), ultimately serving as the last vice-dean (1986-8). A strong supporter of the evolution to full College status he received the gold medal in 1992, the year of our Royal Charter.

Other biographical information

Always smartly dressed (bow tie & bowler hat) he was known for his sense of humour. While many of us have responded to the (mildly irritating) comment “Ah you put people to sleep” by saying “And wake them up again”, it is doubtful if any one else has said it to the Duke of Edinburgh!

Married to Brenda (a St George’s nurse who pre-deceased him) they had three daughters. Interests included opera, theatre, music & literature, and he was a rapid solver of crosswords. A man of strong faith, he became a lay reader in retirement.

Author and sources


Prof Tony Wildsmith

Sources and comments:

[1] Obituary. The Caian: The Annual Recond of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1/10/2015 – 30/09/2016  [2] Medical Directory