Obituary: George Beveridge, widely-respected dermatologist who listened to patients with empathy

Dermatologist Dr George Beveridge has died at the age of 86
Dermatologist Dr George Beveridge has died at the age of 86
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Dr George William Beveridge MB ChB, FRCP Edin. Born: 23 February, 1932 in Edinburgh. Died: 4 August, 2018 in Edinburgh, aged 86.

George Beveridge, a former consultant dermatologist based in The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and part-time senior lecturer in the Department of Dermatology, University of Edinburgh. He was to the fore in clinical dermatology in and around Edinburgh for more than 30 years.

The son of a GP in Saline, Fife, he was educated at ­Dollar ­Academy and qualified in medicine from the University of ­Edinburgh in 1956.

During National Service he was posted to the Royal Army Medical Corps as regimental medical officer to the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment based in Munster, Germany. This was a formative time and as part of his ‘medical’ duties he recalled stitching up the adjutant’s ­labrador, who had been savaged by an Irish deer hound.

Towards the end of his National Service he was invited to attend ward rounds at the Skin Hospital in Munster and this may have awakened his interest in dermatology.

On returning from National Service, George was appointed senior house officer at ­Ballochmyle ­Hospital, ­Ayrshire. Here he was influenced by the physician-turned-pathologist, John Milne (later Professor of ­Dermatology, University of Glasgow). He returned to Edinburgh as a registrar in general medicine, working under JK Slater whose main interest was ­neurology. He soon became a MRCP Edin. diplomate with neurology as the special ­subject.

He was then persuaded by GH Percival, Professor of ­Dermatology, to join his department as a lecturer. George was largely self-taught as were many doctors in those days. He was thrown into the deep end to run large clinics on his own; books came to the rescue more often than advice from his seniors, as ­asking them for help was regarded as ­something akin to weakness.

He was appointed consultant in 1963 and retired in 1996. Although the hub of his ­practice was always The ­Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, the spokes took him out to regular sessions in peripheral ­hospitals. These included ­clinics in Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, Cupar and St. Andrews (until 1971), Leith and Bangour Hospitals (1971-1989) and St John’s Hospital, Livingstone (1989-1996).

During his 30 years as a ­consultant George ­provided wise counsel to both ­Professor Hare and then Professor ­Hunter. He had a steadying influence on poorly considered ephemeral ideas and ­provided a sound cornerstone to the clinical service.

George was, first and foremost, a clinician. There could be few consultants in ­Edinburgh, if any, who saw more patients in their career. He was a good listener and observer. He was unfailingly polite and his approach was logical and orderly.

Patients appreciated Dr ­Beveridge, not least because of his genuine empathy and his avuncular style. He eschewed private practice and became the much-respected ­dermatologist of many ­medical colleagues and their families.

For many years George ­provided an excellent ­histological service for the department. Taught initially by Professor Percival, he developed a keen eye for diagnosing conditions by the microscopic examination of biopsy material. Latterly, Dr Kathryn McLaren of the Pathology Department became the mainstay of this service but she liaised ­regularly with George on difficult problems.

George made significant contributions in clinical research. These ranged from the first description of skin blisters in patients who had taken an overdose of barbiturates, to the early collaborative publication of the distinctive rash that patients with glandular fever developed when ­given ampicillin, to the skin problems experienced by renal transplant recipients.

George married Janette (née Millar), a fellow doctor, in 1962. Theirs was a long and happy marriage. He was an elder at Cramond Kirk, and enjoyed ­gardening, holidays in Spain and golf, being a member of Bruntsfield Links Golfing ­Society for more than 50 years.

His physical health, but not his mind, deteriorated in 2018 and he died peacefully at Strachan House Nursing Home. He leaves four children and four grandchildren.

John Hunter 
& Iain Beveridge