Prof. Arthur Douglas Roy, 1968 - 1972
Prof. Arthur Douglas Roy, 1968 - 1972

Prof.Douglas Roy (FRCS,FACS) was born in 1925 in London and graduated from Glasgow University in 1947. He was foundation professor of surgery of University of Nairobi, Kenya (1968-72), professor of surgery Queen’s University, Belfast (1973-85) professor of surgery Sultan Qaboos University, Oman (1985-88).

Having distinguished himself as an undergraduate and postgraduate, he became consultant surgeon, honorary lecturer, and first assistant to Sir Charles Illingworth and subsequently to Sir Andrew Watt Kay in the University Department of Surgery, Western Infirmary, Glasgow. It is this springboard that launched him into three consecutive outstanding phases of his surgical career, heading up three university departments of surgery on three continents.

A new faculty of medicine was established in the University of Nairobi, Kenya in June 1967 and one year later Prof.Douglas Roy was appointed foundation professor of surgery, a post that he held for four years. During that time he established a strong, imaginative department in which the recruitment and training of postgraduates was given as much priority as that of undergraduates.

At that period when the East African Community existed, there was a quite exceptional opportunity for co-operation and collaboration between the three universities and health services in which Douglas played a pivotal role.

His overriding concern was to produce doctors of quality able to meet the multifarious clinical needs of Kenya. Despite the pressures of work in Nairobi, he made time for visits with the flying doctor service to remote provincial and mission hospitals, a practice that helped to form his deep concern for community medicine in all its aspects. In this he proved to be a leader of imagination who could inspire his students and—perhaps particularly—his postgraduates.

As head of the Queen’s University Department of Surgery in Belfast he stimulated, encouraged, cultivated, and wisely delegated responsibility in administrative, clinical and research fields, which culminated in vital growth and development among his departmental staff. The active and productive research team, which he led in a skilled and unselfish manner, incorporated a number of national health services employees with whom there was a close liaison. He inspired a remarkable degree of loyalty across a broad spectrum of personnel. Publications in the scientific literature and contributions at national and international meetings of distinguished associations, societies, and institutions were indeed substantial during his tenure.

His leadership as chairman of the surgical training committee of the Northern Ireland Council for Postgraduate Medical Education during an 11 year period led to the establishment of a comprehensive rotational training scheme, which has brought exceptional benefit to generations of aspiring young surgeons. He himself was a fine technical surgeon, dedicated trainer, and respected role model in the fields of gastrointestinal, breast, and endocrine surgery and the management of trauma.

He was elected to the council of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (1979-85) and served on a host of other committees and advisory bodies, where his wise counsel and sound judgement were greatly appreciated. He was a perceptive and popular examiner and was much in demand in university and college circles at home and abroad.

Douglas Roy was head hunted to lead the building up of a new health service as chief of surgical services for the sultanate of Oman and as professor of surgery, Sultan Qaboos University (1985-88). Aided by the recently acquired substantial oil revenue, he devoted his energy and skill to develop surgical services in the capital and strategic stations in the country. He was instrumental in planning a surgical training programme in the newly opened university medical school.

Thanks to his efforts Oman now enjoys a health service that is the envy of the Arabian Gulf and beyond. The then assistant editor (now editor) of the BMJ, Richard Smith, wrote appreciatively about these achievements in an article entitled "Oman: leaping across the centuries" (BMJ 1988;297:540-4)

Above all Douglas was a kind, considerate, friendly, and hospitable man. He and his wife, Patricia, entertained many guests in their homes over the years.

He retired to Devon, where he was a non-executive director of a community trust for three years. He took up gliding, sharing a glider with a local general practitioner. He went solo on his 65th birthday.

He died from Parkinson’s disease on 21 July 2003 and was survived by a wife, Patricia (who tended him unfailingly in his later years of declining health); three daughters; and three grandchildren.