Obituary - Dr John Horton

Dr John Horton

1939 to 2004

John Horton, who died in June 2004, was appointed as a Consultant Anaesthetist to the United Cardiff Hospitals in 1971. His training had started in England and John was much influenced by his time at Southend with Drs Alfred Lee and Richard Atkinson. His abilities to work hard, to think clearly and logically, allied to his meticulous attention to detail were obvious to all. These assets were to play most important roles in his future career.

He applied all these facets to his anaesthetic practice, education and teaching. He was heavily involved in caring for children particularly those with oncological disease. There are many patients and parents who are grateful to John and remember him very warmly. In addition, he looked after great numbers of children who needed dental treatment for many years. His commitment to teaching led him to be elected nationally as an examiner first to the Diploma of Anaesthesia and subsequently as a Primary Examiner at the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA). He contributed significantly to the changes made in the college examinations during the eighties and nineties.

In Cardiff, he was appointed to what is now called a Clinical Tutor, a post he served with great distinction for a long period of time. It was inevitable that he eventually became the Regional Adviser for Wales. This post was, and is, very exacting due to the large number of trainees and the geographical distances involved. Nevertheless, he brought his usual efficiency to a post which he mostly enjoyed.

However, when he was persuaded to become the first Clinical Director, John suddenly realised that the aims of both posts were not mutually compatible. They led to increasing conflicts of interests. These conflicts multiplied as each section became increasingly more demanding. In the end, these conflicts overwhelmed this honourable man and he retired early. Sadly, the results of these conflicts weighted heavily on his mind and he died prematurely. However, one very positive recommendation which followed was that the RCoA recognised these conflicts produced in the modern health service. Subsequently, it was strongly recommended that those who provide the education of trainees and those who are responsible for service are not the same person. Throughout his career John was always well supported by his wife Maureen 'both in sickness and in health'. Our sympathies go out to her and their three children David, Catherine and Justin. Others of us have lost a dear and caring friend, and, anaesthesia one of its gentlemen and strongest supporter.

Dr Ralph S Vaughan, Cardiff