by Prof Sean Hilton
In July 2016, the Medical School lost one of its greatest stars and supporters – Professor John Howard. John died after a cruel illness that lasted little more than a year, throughout which he remained stoical and positive, and continued to work tirelessly for the success of the MSc in Family Medicine. His leadership of this made an enormous contribution to establishing the course and its assessments, and the successful accreditation visits for MRCGP International in 2015.
John was a GP in Caterham (south east London) for many years, and in addition was a distinguished and senior educator in postgraduate general practice in the UK and internationally. His MBBS degree was from the University of London in 1972. He studied at the Royal Free Medical School, where he met fellow student Linda, his future wife. He was one of a generation of GPs who developed general practice rapidly through the 1980s. His particular interest was cardiology, and he made innovative changes to the delivery of primary care cardiology, not only in his own practice but more widely across south east London. He became deeply involved and committed to vocational training for general practice, and for many years was the Associate Dean for Postgraduate General Practice in the South Thames Region, leading the drive to improve standards of care and education in training practices.
From 1998 to 2014 John developed his career in international general practice alongside all his other work. Professor Val Wass summarised this amazing body of work beautifully in the memorial symposium held by the Medical School in October 2016. In recognition of his pre-eminence in this field, John was appointed Chairman of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges International Committee. In 2012 he was awarded the RCGP President’s medal – a rare distinction – for his work in establishing the MRCGP International across the world.
John was very committed to primary care teamwork. He led initiatives in training for pharmacists and paramedics across South East England.
John’s professional ties to Cyprus can be traced back to the 1990s, when he contributed to the Cyprus MSc in General Practice that was offered by the UK’s University of Surrey. From 2004-6 he was back in Cyprus delivering a modular Train the Trainers course to Cypriot doctors. In that time he established working links with our Executive Dean, Prof Andreas Charalambous. When the Medical School started in 2011, it was only fitting that John would be invited to join, which he duly did during 2014. He provided leadership and great energy in advocating postgraduate training for general practice in Cyprus, and in establishing the academic programmes to underpin this.
In recognition of John’s enormous contributions to UNic and the Medical School in such a short period, the Medical School has established the John V Howard Memorial Scholarship for outstanding students on the MSc Family Medicine course. The first award was made at the Memorial Symposium held in October.
John was a devoted family man, with wife Linda and daughter Juliette (a junior doctor) and son James. John’s GP partner in Caterham, Dr Tony Clarke, described him as “A phenomenon. A free spirit. A man with astonishing energy who achieved so much”. He was also a dear friend, to us individually and to the Medical School.