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Hugh McGavock obituary: Esteemed Professor and GP advisor who put patients first


Professor Hugh McGavock who wrote a best-selling book on How Drugs Work has died at 79.

His book went to a third edition and there were Swedish and Australian editions; it was also translated into Chinese and Arabic.

Professor McGavock was invited onto the Steering Committee for the new graduate-only Medical School at the Magee Campus of the UU.

He was educated at Regent House, the Royal School Dungannon, Belfast Royal Academy and Queen's University, Belfast, where he graduated in honours physiology in 1961, and in medicine in 1964. He completed a doctorate in human physiology research in 1977.

He was a house officer at the Royal Victoria Hospital from 1964-65, and later carried out research with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

He became Senior Specialist in Army Physiology in 1968, and a Major two years later.

From 1970-80 he worked as a GP with his wife Elizabeth in their Portrush practice.

He was a GP trainer from 1975-1980, and also set up the first nursing degree course in UU at Coleraine from 1975-79.

From 1980 he worked for the Department of Health, and visited every general practice in Northern Ireland.

In 1985 he became Senior Medical Officer, prior to his appointment as Director of the Drug Utilisation Research Unit at QUB.

He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Medical Practitioners, and was Provost of the Northern Ireland College from 1994-95. He was elected Chairman of the UK Drug Utilisation Research Group.

From 1989-98 he was an Advisor at various times on GP Prescribing Quality Assurance to the governments of Ireland, Iceland, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, South Africa and Australia.

In 1998 he became Visiting Professor (Prescribing Science) at the UU and also Chairman of the Research Ethical Committee. As advisor to the House of Lords' Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance, he warned of the imminent danger of multi-drug resistant infections.

Professor McGavock also held the prestigious post as a member of the Committee on Safety of Medicines in London.

In a busy career he organised master-classes for GPs in Northern Ireland and compiled the first Northern Ireland GP Formulary.

He also produced over 50 publications.

Dr Betty McGavock, his wife of 54 years said: "He was a scholar and a gentleman of the old school, a man of many talents who gave a lecture in Germany, delivered in German.

"He channelled his talents and enthusiasm for everything he undertook into improvements in medicine. He was kind, forbearing, and long-suffering."

Professor Hugh McKenna, Dean of Medical School Development at the UU, said that he and his colleagues were devastated.

"His last words to me were that our medical school had to ensure that the patients were central.

"This is a perfect example of why our students and staff loved and respected the kind man that was Hugh McGavock."

Professor McGavock is survived by his wife Betty, their sons James, Samuel and Philip, daughter-in-law Susan, his grandchildren Jamie and Beth, and by his brother Ray and sister Ann.

Belfast Telegraph


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