David Bennett: Pioneer in the field of intensive care

 

David Bennett was a founding father of modern intensive-care medicine, and a leading figure on the international stage. His pioneering work into the monitoring and physiology of the circulation began in the 1960s with a series of seminal studies investigating a wide range of invasive and non-invasive techniques that have since gained widespread traction. He strongly promoted their incorporation into routine bedside practice, arguing cogently that guided physiological manipulation had to be superior to arbitrary and often misplaced decision-making, thus bringing science to the art of clinical medicine.

His later research career championed the concept of perioperative circulatory optimisation to improve outcomes in high-risk surgical patients. This entails titrating fluid and drug therapy to precisely targeted endpoints using carefully calibrated monitoring techniques. Having confirmed the benefits (mortality, morbidity, length of stay) in a landmark paper published in 1993, and then reinforced by subsequent studies, Bennett became an impassioned advocate, travelling the globe to promulgate and proselytise. More than anyone, he put this concept on the map. A recent endorsement by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence gave him enormous satisfaction.

Bennett qualified from the Middlesex Hospital, London in 1963 and, other than a year spent at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore, US, worked solely in leading academic hospitals within the London area. He was a British Heart Foundation research fellow at the National Heart Hospital, a Medical Research Council senior registrar at Charing Cross Hospital and then lecturer, senior lecturer, reader and, in 1997, professor at St George's Hospital Medical School. In 1974 he became the first director of the Intensive Care Unit at St George's Hospital. After formally retiring in 2007 he maintained his interests in teaching and research as a visiting professor at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals.

Bennett's modus operandi was to inspire through passionate example rather than to lead by confrontation or chastisement. You attempted to live up to his standards, but he was too polite to show (at least externally) his disapproval if you did not. Coffee could not be instant and food should not be fast. For him, heaven was an animated discussion surrounding a new concept, a trial design, an exciting research finding or a controversial paper. Hell was the (rare) inability to elicit a response.

Bennett was intensely modest; even his close family was unaware of the scale of his achievements. He exuded humanity and loathed the mundane. He had his idiosyncrasies. He loved woollen cardigans, hated minutiae, was frustrated by bureaucracy, and despised officialdom's repeated attempts to ruin the National Health Service he so dearly cherished. Irritation and the odd expletive could creep into his speech when poor clinical practice or administrative inertia let patients down. He would often appear in newspaper, radio or television interviews, articulately berating the government of the day for the lack of critical-care provision; when the hospital eventually banned filming within its grounds, he would defiantly continue from the pavement outside.

He was also a superb teacher, nurturing successive generations of intensivists who went on to develop successful careers in their own right, yet who all acknowledge an immense debt of gratitude to their guru. In recognition of his services to the specialty, Bennett was awarded life fellowships by many august bodies, including the UK Intensive Care Society and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. He was the organiser of congresses and meetings around the world, and was particularly proud of his annual summer school in Brijuni (Croatia). Notwithstanding these high-profile activities, he derived as much – if not more – pleasure from teaching medical students at the bedside.

Outside medicine, Bennett had a passion for the Lake District, for Apple computers from their earliest inception, for photography and music. Escorting his concert pianist wife on tours as "roadie", accountant and photographer gave him especial pride and joy.

Consultants and professors are often liked, respected and admired, but few are loved. The avalanche of tributes that have flooded in since his untimely death demonstrate the intense warmth and affection in which he was held. He leaves his wife Kathron, daughter Gabby, two grandchildren, two adoring dachshunds, and many other broken hearts.

David Bennett, Emeritus Professor of Intensive Care Medicine: born London 19 August 1938; married first Lee (one daughter), second 1992 Kathron Sturrock; died London 21 February 2012.

News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities