Dr Barry Ian Hoffbrand

(Born Bradford 1934, Died London 2020)

Consultant Physician, Whittington Hospital, London (qualified Oxford/University College Hospital, London, MA, MD, FRCP), died from an arrhythmia on 24 April 2020

Barry grew up in Bradford, the son of a tailor from Latvia.  One of his Bradford cousins later became my daughter-in-law’s grandmother.  He went to Bradford Grammar School and Queens College, Oxford and thence to UCH where he qualified in 1958.   He was appointed Consultant Physician to the Whittington Hospital in 1970. He had a strong specialist interest in renal disease and hypertension and published very widely.

I met him in 1974 as a new clinical student at the Whittington and I was impressed by his kindness and compassion to the patients, his colleagues and his students.  He was an enthusiastic teacher who never taught by ritual humiliation, which was sadly quite common at that time.  Barry had a great sense of humour, and often broke a tense moment with a joke.  He instinctively knew how to get the best out of his team and every experience was turned into an educational experience.  It was no surprise that the Academic Centre for Postgraduate Medicine was established there and Barry was its Director from 1975 to 1981.  He created an environment that enabled a generation of junior doctors to pass their MRCP examinations.

He was an excellent diagnostician who specialized in taking on patients with obscure problems and helping them to a successful resolution, and he was fascinating to watch at work.  As a result of his well-earned reputation, he had a large coterie of patients who appreciated his thoroughness and his refusal to talk down to them.  It was natural that I would refer patients back to my former teacher when I became a North London GP and he never disappointed me.  I enjoyed our educational correspondence on complicated matters and he carried on teaching me long after others had given up.  Just occasionally, he would refer patients of his to me, as I imagine he did with others of his many grateful former students. He retired from the Whittington in 1999 and developed a second career in art and art history.

He held several offices of the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM), serving as Vice-President, and founding their Nephrology section. He edited the Postgraduate Medical Journal for many years. He was a member of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Council and an examiner for the RCP. He served as President of the Harveian Society of London and of the London Jewish Medical Society – now the Jewish Medical Association (JMA) – where he was a regular and enthusiastic attender.   The JMA was where he was able to meet old friends and colleagues, and at JMA meetings he could still contribute to debate.  He had clearly lost none of his enthusiasm for Medicine, but, at the same time, in retirement he became a very accomplished artist as well as art historian.  He was a keen member of the MCC. His daughter Sara says that he was still so busy that lockdown posed no problem. There was so much to do on-line: Zoom gatherings with friends, on-line-chess and bridge, on-line life drawing and Whats Apping with his grandchildren. She felt that it was lucky for him that in death he looked like he had fallen asleep at the computer, so that for his family the lasting memory of him will continue to be that of vitality and undiminished interest in life.

In 1961 Barry married Marina Morduch, a fellow student at University College Hospital, London, who became a psychiatrist. He was devoted to his wife and their three children, Sara, Julia and Rachel. Barry is survived by Marina, his children and seven grandchildren.

We will all miss him.

Dr Laurence Buckman