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Trailblazing doctor who helped launch intensive care at Belfast's Royal

Obituary

Published 12/11/2016

The man credited with establishing intensive care at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital has died
The man credited with establishing intensive care at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital has died

The man credited with establishing intensive care at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital has died.

Dr Robert Cecil Gray, known as Bob, was an anaesthetist who spent almost 30 years working in the hospital.

A native of Mountnorris in Co Armagh, he graduated from Trinity College in Dublin before coming to work in Belfast.

In 1958 he came under the wing of Dr (later Professor) John Dundee, who pressed for Dr Gray to be given a fellowship, and between them they established the first intensive care unit at the Grosvenor Road site in 1962.

Originally it was a two-bed unit in Quinn House, but this developed into a 12-bed unit by 1970 and then 14 beds by 1992. When the new hospital was built the unit doubled in size.

Professor Richard Clarke, who worked alongside Dr Gray and who was the archivist of the hospital for 20 years and wrote the history of the hospital, described Professor Dundee as a far-seeing anaesthetist "who saw the direction that care of patients needed to go in".

He said Dr Gray worked his entire career at the hospital's intensive care unit and for much of that time was effectively head of the department.

Professor Clarke added: "By the time the Troubles came around the unit had moved into a purpose-built facility and it became increasingly busy.

"However, most of the patients who came to the unit had been involved in traffic accidents and suchlike, rather than being caught up in the violence. The Royal Victoria Hospital dealt with the most serious cases which were referred to it from around Northern Ireland, and that meant the unit was always very busy.

"There is no doubt that Dr Gray made a huge contribution to the welfare of patients at the hospital through his work in intensive care. He created the intensive care unit, and that was one of the greatest life-saving units within the hospital."

Dr Gray, who lived in the Malone area of Belfast, was predeceased by his wife May and is survived by his son Mark, daughter Brenda, son-in-law Tim and grandchildren Chris and Libby.

His funeral service will be held today at Belfast South Methodist Church on the Lisburn Road, and he will be interred at Drumbo Parish Churchyard.

Belfast Telegraph

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