BGS Presidents - Biographical Sketches: Brian Williams

As an undergraduate in the Glasgow Medical School from 1964-1970, my faculty appointed mentor was Professor William Ferguson Anderson. Fergie was probably the first clinical Professor of Geriatric Medicine in the world and was also a president of the BGS.

He advised me to train as a Cardiologist but I wanted to follow in his footsteps from my earliest clinical years. After my training in General Internal Medicine and obtaining MRCP (UK), I was appointed as a Senior Registrar in Geriatric Medicine in the Glasgow rotation.  In the 1970s and 80s, Glasgow was a powerhouse of the Specialty and had international recognition.

My first consultant appointment was in the Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow.  I joined a team of two other consultants, the lead being another charismatic man, John Dall (also a president of the BGS). By now I had developed interests in cardiovascular diseases in older people and I took the post of full-time Senior Lecturer in Geriatric Medicine based at Stobhill Hospital with Professor Francis Caird, an excellent Clinical Researcher. I completed my MD thesis, and after three years in the academic unit, I was appointed as Consultant in Administrative Charge of the West Glasgow Geriatric Medicine Service. This was a daunting task. I had two established consultant colleagues, who were wary of me. I continued as Head of Department until my retiral from Clinical Practice in 2009.

I joined the BGS as a new Senior Registrar and presented academic papers to the Scottish branch meetings and national meetings of the BGS on many occasions until 2010. I served as Chairman of the Scottish branch of the BGS from 1992-1995 and was elected President of the BGS from 1998 – 2000. I represented the BGS at European policy meetings and as first President of the EUGMS (European Union of Geriatric Medicine Society). I steered an elected Board of representatives of the 15 EU states and EFTA countries. Our mission as to promote our specialty throughout the European region (2000-2003).

My research was all clinical and based on older subjects. My contributions to citation classic publications have acted as catalysts for change in the management of hypertension, fractured femur and stroke in older people.

I have a long standing involvement in the work of the Royal Colleges. I have served as College Councillor, Examiner, Honorary Secretary, and Medical Vice President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. I was President from 2006-2009. During my Presidency, I served as elected Chairman of the Forum of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Specialty Surgical Associations of Great Britain and Ireland, and Chairman of the Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom.

From 1983, I have had an association with the development of Geriatric Medicine in Hong Kong. I have advised the Hong Kong Geriatric Society and Hong Kong Hospital Authority in planning services for older people. Many consultant geriatricians in Hong Kong trained in our Glasgow unit.

I have been associated with the hospice movement and served as Chairman of Scotland’s Hospice in Clydebank near Glasgow.

I currently have the role of Associate Postgraduate Dean for Doctors in Difficulty in the West of Scotland Deanery. I arrange remediation for trainees who are failing to progress.

I have been impressed by the fact that forty years ago, Geriatric Medicine was rarely a first choice for young geriatricians. It was for me and now it is for many young people who contribute greatly to our Specialty.

Brian Owen Williams, CBE, MD, Hon DSc, FRCP (Glasgow, London, Edinburgh, Ireland), FCPS (Pak), FRCSLT, FRACP, FAMM, FRCS Ed, FRCSI.

Consultant Geriatrician, Glasgow, 1977-2009.
President, British Geriatrics Society, 1998 – 2000.