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Obituary: Anthony Buhagiar Duke

Obituary for Anthony Buhagiar Duke, FRCS, FRCOG

Anthony Duke, known as Tony was born in Malta in 1937, the eldest of 6 children.

He attended Stella Maris College and went on to the University of Malta, where he qualified in 1961.

He did his house jobs at St Luke’s Hospital in Valetta and moved to England for training in surgery.

He worked in in junior surgical jobs at several London hospitals and then moved to the Midlands.

He became a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1967 and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons a year later.

From 1963 he was a registrar in Wolverhampton and in 1968 a Senior Registrar in Birmingham.

He was appointed to Stafford in 1970.

He joined Mr Norman Richards, a single handed consultant who had provided obstetric and gynaecological services for a population of 250,000: he retired in 1979.

The medical facilities in Stafford were fragmented and the main base for Obstetrics and Gynaecology was at Groundslow Hospital, a former TB sanatorium which was 10 miles from Stafford.

The main hospital in Stafford was the General Infirmary, which dated from the 18th century.

With his colleague Mr Robert Daniels he worked on the split site until the District General Hospital was opened in 1983 and a further 3 consultants were appointed. Until then, it was not uncommon for him to have to drive the 10 miles to Groundslow in the middle of the night when there was an obstetric emergency which could not be handled by the junior staff.

Under his supervision, the perinatal mortality in Stafford fell from 20 per hundred thousand to 4.5, which at the time was one of lowest in the midlands, something of which he was justly proud.

He was an early exponent of laparoscopic surgery.

He built on the work of his predecessor enthusiastically and with the aid of some expert sonographers, expanded facilities both for obstetrics and gynaecology.

He provided much help for this author, who was an endocrinologist.

His notes were a model of clarity and legibility.

He ran a well-regarded DRCOG course and his educational expertise was recognised by the RCOG, for which he became an examiner.

Tony was a keen sportsman and had a fine pair of shot guns.

He and his wife were generous hosts and after dinner, he sometimes showed these to interested guests.

His sport affected his hearing though and he gave up shooting in favour of his beloved garden, which was open to the public annually.

He was a knowledgeable horticulturist and after his retirement, he took a diploma in this subject at Rodbaston College.

He was sustained by a happy family life and his Catholic faith.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Marie Louise.

They had one son and three daughters.


By Peter Daggett, FRCP