Obituary: Sir Francis Avery Jones

FRANCIS AVERY JONES became identified with gastroenterology in a way that few other physicians and surgeons have been with any other speciality in Britain. That he achieved such eminence was particularly remarkable, because he did so through his work in a district hospital and not at one of the teaching hospitals at which the leaders of the profession were nearly always based.

Avery Jones was educated at the Sir John Leman School, Beccles, and at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School. He qualified in medicine in 1934 and was successively house physician to Professors Sir Francis Fraser, Leslie Witts and Ronald Christie, three of the most distinguished physicians of the time.

In 1936, he obtained a Baly Research Scholarship and was appointed assistant to the professorial medical unit under Witts, where he was introduced to the revolutionary technique, pioneered in Denmark, of liberal feeding for patients with bleeding peptic ulcers, instead of sedation and starvation, and he showed that the fatality of the condition could be dramatically reduced by drip blood transfusion and adequate amounts of water and salts by mouth.

In 1937 he attended (as a guest) the foundation meeting of a gastroenterological club (later to become the British Society of Gastroenterology) which had been organised by Sir Arthur Hirst, fell under his spell, and became committed to gastroenterology for life.

In 1940, Avery Jones was appointed to the staff of the Central Middlesex Hospital, as a physician with a special interest in gastroenterology, where he joined a group of specialists whose joint work was to establish the hospital as a centre of excellence that rivalled the university hospitals in central London. Collaboration, rather than competition, characterised the work: before long Avery Jones had amassed a personal experience of the natural history and prognosis of peptic ulceration that was unique and which he built on by persuading his surgical colleagues to operate on patients directly from his wards, leaving their post-operative care to him; something that was only just beginning to be managed scientifically with detailed attention to biochemical control.

The massive experience that he gained in this way of the results of different methods of treatment of gastric and duodenal haemorrhage enabled him to lay out a practical programme for managing one of the most complex medical emergencies; this resulted in a progressive and sustained reduction in the fatality of the condition.

Among his many other special interests were the development of gastroscopy, which he was among the first to use routinely when the flexible Wolf-Schindler gastroscope became available, and the use of randomised controlled trials, which, with help from me, he was the first to use to assess the value of the myriad treatments that were recommended for gastric and duodenal ulcers. I had joined his group in 1946 with the support of a Medical Research Council grant to study their occupational causes. Our co-operation over more than 20 years established, inter alia, that the bland diets then routinely prescribed for therapy were not beneficial, but that the advice to stop smoking was.

Avery Jones was a superb diagnostician and unremitting in his attention to his patients' needs, visiting his wards routinely at 10 o'clock at night to monitor the progress of those who were seriously ill. His clinical skills were recognised by an appointment as consultant gastroenterologist to St Mark's Hospital for diseases of the large bowel, and to the Royal Navy.

Not satisfied with giving his patients the best possible medical care within his power, he sought to ensure that the structure of the National Health Service played its part equally effectively. He was a member, and later the Chairman, of the King's Fund Committee on Catering and Diet in hospitals. He chaired the King Edward VII Hospital Fund Development and Emergency Bed Service Committee, and the Department of Health and Social Security's Advisory Committee on Medical Records.

In his later years he developed a particular interest in nutrition, chaired the Royal College of Physicians' Working Party on Dietary Fibre, was a member of the scientific committee of the British Nutrition Foundation, and the first chairman of the Royal Society of Medicine's Forum on Food and Health.

Internationally his work was recognised by the invitation to give the first Memorial Lecture of the American Gastroenterological Association, election as an honorary fellow of the American College of Physicians, and the award of the first Henry Bockus Medal of the World Organisation of Gastroenterology. At home he was invited to give the Goulstonian lecture at the Royal College of Physicians, awarded to the youngest new fellow of the college, and later the Harveian Oration, its most prestigious senior award, and, an extreme rarity for a physician, was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Avery Jones (always just "Avery" to his friends and colleagues) was the antithesis of the television picture of a senior medical consultant; he was quiet, unassertive, attentive to everything a patient had to tell him, but nevertheless radiated confidence and left everyone feeling better for his visit. He was never rushed or flurried (even if sometimes inevitably late) and worked a 16-hour day. After I had known him for some years I asked him if he ever took a holiday. "Of course," he said. "I had one last year." On further enquiry it turned out to have been on Sunday 26 July.

Francis Avery Jones, physician and gasteroenterologist: born Briton Ferry, Carmarthenshire 31 May 1910; physician, Central Middlesex Hospital 1940-74; consultant, St Mark's Hospital 1948-78; consultant, Royal Navy 1950-78; Editor, Gut 1965-70; CBE 1966; Kt 1970; President, Medical Society of London 1977-78; President, Medical Artists Association 1980-91; President, British Digestive Foundation 1981-92; married 1934 Dorothea Pfirter (died 1983; one son), 1983 Joan Edmunds; died Chichester, West Sussex 30 April 1998.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music

Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin married in Venice yesterday
peopleAmal and George Clooney 'planning third celebration in England'
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley at the premiere of Laggie at Toronto Film Festival 2014
theatreActress 'to make Broadway debut'
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
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

Business Focused Business Analyst - Finance and Procurement System Implementation

£350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reading are...

Note Taker - Scribe

£10 per hour: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced note taker...

DT Teacher - Resistant Materials

£4800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: A full time...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker