Obituary: Bernard Williams

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Bernard Williams was a consultant neurosurgeon at the Midland Centre for Neurosurgery and Neurology from 1973, but this title reveals little of the extent of his achievements, particularly in the field of cystic conditions in the spinal cord.

Williams was a man of brilliant intellect, with an inquiring mind, coupled with high technical skill as a surgeon. From an early stage of his time as a neurosurgeon he had an interest in disorders of the flow of the cerebro-spinal fluid, which circulates within and over the surface of the brain and spinal cord.

As a Senior Lecturer at Birmingham University he enlisted the help of diverse workers in other fields, ranging from physicists and jewellers to appliance makers and chemists, to provide him with the parts he needed to study the flow and pressure changes in this fluid, in normal and disordered conditions, and developed an elaborate system for studying such disorders.

Born in Stockport, he attended Stretford Grammar School, and received his medical education at Birmingham University. He worked in the neurosurgical department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and, after service in the Army, and further surgical training, he trained in neurosurgery in London and Birmingham.

He was appointed Consultant Neurosurgeon in Hull in 1970 and then returned to the Midland Centre in this capacity in 1973. He continued in this post, with his Senior Lectureship at Birmingham University, until his death, and had a very busy surgical practice, the more so in view of his special interests and experience.

Fortunately for posterity, Williams was a prolific writer in his professional field. He wrote mainly on subjects connected with his special interest, but also on any neurosurgical condition which he considered required updating in its concepts or management. He travelled widely and contributed to a number of books to spread the new ideas which sprang from his work. At the time of his death there were seven of his papers in course of publication.

Many patients in Britain and from abroad have benefited from the work of Bernard Williams, and indirectly many others will continue to do so.

J. G. Hamilton

Bernard Williams, neurosurgeon: born Stockport 20 April 1932; Consultant Neurosurgeon, Midland Centre for Neurosurgery and Neurology 1973-95; Senior Lecturer, Birmingham University 1973-95; twice married (two sons, four daughters); died Birmingham 10 August 1995.