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Obituary: John Newton

Tribute to John Newton given at Council on 7 April 2017 by Asha Kasliwal

John had a long interest in women’s health. He chose obstetrics and gynaecology as his career and became a Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in 1967, becoming a Fellow in 1980. He contributed to the work of the College being on Council from 1972 to 1978 and a member of several committees including the Examination and Scientific committees.

This experience with the College was invaluable to the Faculty as he became more involved with it.  When the National Association of Family Planning Doctors (NAFPD) morphed into the FFPRHC in 1993, (the change to the current name: Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) did not occur until 2007) John was a Board member, sat on several committees and took over as the third President in 1997.

His particular interest in contraceptive methods developed whilst Senior Lecturer at Kings College Hospital, London where he worked with the World Health Organisation and undertook early work on the copper IUD (Cu7). He joined a small team of like-minded gynaecologists who formed the Medical Advisory Committee of the Family Planning Association (FPA). Having taken up the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Birmingham in the mid-70s, John and his wife, Patricia, offered complex contraceptive clinics, including Norplant and they both provided training to many doctors in those early days.

His time in the role as President is marked by the development and implementation of non-consultant Career Grade Training which provided a structured career progression for many doctors, several of whom went on to lead services as Associate Specialists. During this time the first doctor passed the Membership of the Faculty of Family Planning (MFFP) examination and the Clinical Effectiveness Unit was formed. In 2001 work was being undertaken to establish a mechanism for revalidation of FFPRHC qualifications.

John fostered international connections through his links with the European Board and College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (EBCOG), the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and the European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC). The U.K. had never hosted an ESC congress, so John put together an application that was successful and the 8th Congress was held in Edinburgh in 2004.

During his period as President the Faculty membership continued to grow as did the role and influence of the Faculty, particularly in the areas of training and clinical effectiveness in contraception and sexual health.

Author: Sarah Randall, MD, FRCOG, FSRH. Retired Consultant, Portsmouth
Acknowledgments to: Prof Max Elstein, Ms Diana Halfnight, Mr Corin Jones, Ms Shelley Raine, Dr Sam Rowlands, Dr Mike Smith