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The countries I have visited


Working with children
Harold Lambert Physician
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We had a lot of paediatric infectious diseases before it went over to paediatrics, and I kept it going longer than, than I felt myself was right, partly because the paediatricians weren't kind of taking it on board. It... they were a long time taking up infection as a specialty. They now have some very good people doing it, but they, they said, 'Oh, we know all about infections', which they didn't and, everybody does it, which they did and... and also to train my junior staff. I so valued people seeing responses to bugs at different ages, but I was very conscious about children in isolation, which you had to do either because they had an illness which would spread to other people or because of the kind of social and societal reasons which made it impossible for them to be nursed at home, but I was always well aware of this. Obviously it's not a thing you really wanted to do. So at that time there were things called play therapists, which at that time were run by the NAWCH, the National Association for the Care of, Welfare of Children in Hospital, yeah, yeah.

[Q] When you said that time, Harold, what...

Well, I mean, before those, that became entrained into the health service provision. And actually I got a play therapist, a play leader we had several very good ones before the paediatricians did and they were extremely beneficial. They played with the children. They got to understand what that particular child was worried about. And then, on the communications side, I got some big industrialist to cough up a reconditioned telephone system so every child had a telephone in the cubicle, and they could talk to each other or to the office with the sister and the nurses and I, I really feel good about that actually, but, I mean, obviously you wouldn't choose to isolate.

About children's infectious diseases, what happened was there was a very nice Australian guy called Bill Marshall at Great Ormond Street who was the only paediatrician this is true doing infection. You know I've said about infection being a gone subject, and he died rather young. In fact, I gave a talk at a memorial meeting for him a... a year or so ago and we didn't know each other terribly well, but he used to ring me up and to discuss problems and stuff that he was faced with and that I think gave them a jolt and the professor of paediatrics at Great Ormond Street asked me to come along to a committee to appoint a welcome chap who's going to become the infection chap, and he went to Nigeria and to Denver and this was Mike Levine, who of course is, you know, about the cleverest chap in the business and that's how it all started. Now there are some very, very good infection people in paediatrics, which of course there should have been years ago.

British doctor Harold Lambert (1926-2017) spent his career tackling infectious diseases, helping in the development of pyrazinamide as an effective treatment for tuberculosis. He also published work on the rational use of antibiotics and was a trustee and medical advisor for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Listeners: Roger Higgs

Roger Higgs was an inner city GP for 30 years in south London, UK, and is Emeritus Professor of General Practice at Kings College London, where he set up the department.

He gained scholarships in classics at Cambridge but changed to medicine after a period of voluntary work in Kenya in 1962. He was Harold Lambert's registrar for 18 months in the early 1970s, the most influential and exciting episode in his hospital training. He set up his own practice in 1975. He helped to establish medical ethics as a practical and academic subject through teaching, writing and broadcasting, and jointly set up the 'Journal of Medical Ethics' in 1975.

His other work included studies in whole person assessment and narrative in general practice and development work in primary medical care: innovations here included intermediate care centres, primary care assessment in accident and emergency departments, teaching internal medicine in general practice and establishing counselling services in medicine.

He was made MBE in 1987 for this development work and now combines bioethics governance, teaching and writing with an arts based retirement.

Tags: infection, paediatrics, junior staff, communication, nurses

Duration: 3 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008