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Obituary: John Alexander Gibson

Updated on: 29 Sep 2020   First published on 29 Sep 2020

In memoriam


MB, BS (Cantab) 1965; Dip Obst RCOG 1968; MRCP (London) 1970; MD (Cantab) 1977; FRCP (London) 1984

John Alexander Gibson, who was born in Edinburgh during an air-raid on February 6th 1941 died on July 18th 2020. His father was Thomas Gibson, a General Practitioner in Bradford and his mother, Winifred studied Natural Sciences at Girton College Cambridge. He was one of 5 children and attended Bradford Grammar, followed by Loretto school. There he excelled at sport and was captain of the Rugby First XV, a game which he continued to play at Cambridge and at Barts. He was Head of School and Senior Under Officer of the Combined Cadet Force. He went up to Gonville and Caius, where he took a first in Natural Sciences and won several prizes. His clinical training was at St Bartholomew’s, followed by junior posts at a number of District General hospitals, during one of which he passed the DRCOG. He returned to Barts as a lecturer and proceeded MD under the supervision of Sir Anthony Dawson. He was then a rotating senior registrar to St Mary’s and the West Middlesex hospitals.


He was appointed Consultant Physician in Stafford in 1977. His specialty was gastroenterology, but the consultant body was very small and he was asked to take on rheumatology as well. He did this with enthusiasm and provided an excellent service for several years, but sometimes found himself in the strange position of prescribing medication in one field, the side effects of which required his services in the other. He built up his gastroenterology department with the help of a team of nurses all of whom just called him “The Boss”. The facilities were initially limited by the size of the old Infirmary in Stafford, but with the opening of the new hospital, he was able to set up a first-class endoscopy unit (now named after him). He offered the full range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and did so at all hours. He was a true General Physician and a highly regarded College tutor from 1979 to 1986. It is said that if you want something done, you should ask a busy man and John was soon asked to represent his colleagues on a number of committees. He served on the District and Area management boards and later, was a natural choice to be a board member of the Dinwoodie Trust, which is dedicated to improving educational facilities for the medical profession. From 1995 to 1999 he was Clinical Director for medicine and he was then invited to be Medical Director at a difficult time for the hospital. Despite the burden of management, he never reduced his medical activities. He was successful in every field, but did have one fault. His handwriting was idiosyncratic to the point that by his own admission, even he sometimes had difficulty reading it!


John was a regular attendee at the British Society of Gastroenterology and the Midlands Gastroenterology Society for which he served a term as President. With his single-handed Gastroenterologist colleagues in Stoke, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton he helped establish in the late 70’s, a “Gut Club” and later a “Travelling Gut Club”. This met regularly with all the trainees and as many nurses as possible, to discuss patients falling into three categories of “what should I do now”, “this is rare” and “where it went wrong”. The group also became a local research hub for clinical trials. The Travelling Gut Club visited academic centres in the UK and abroad where the local experts discussed their current research and clinical developments.

John enjoyed Fishing and Shooting, opera and ballet. He was supported by his wife Sarah and they had two children, one of whom is a vet and five grandchildren.



Peter Daggett, FRCP

Edwin Swarbrick, FRCP

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