Obituary: Dr John Forbes Munro, 80

Dr  John Forbes Munro.
Dr John Forbes Munro.
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Dr John Forbes Munro, former consultant physician at the Eastern General and Edenhall hospitals, has died, aged 80.

Born in Edinburgh on June 25, 1933, John Munro’s early life shuttled between the Capital and India before the family settled in Essex, where he attended Chigwell School.

He declined a scholarship to read history at Oxford, having had what he described as a “religious” conversion to study medicine. But this course was temporarily put on hold while he did his National Service, where he qualified as a physiotherapist in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Having done no science at school, first-year medicine at Edinburgh was hard work, but the knowledge and skills gained in the army played a role in his achieving the gold medal in anatomy and graduating in 1960 MBChB with honours.

Early postgraduate posts in Edinburgh’s teaching hospitals provided diverse clinical experience. He became consultant physician at the Eastern General and Edenhall hospitals in 1968 and worked closely with local GPs and his colleagues to deliver all-inclusive care.

Over the next 25 years, scores of medical students benefitted from his teaching and many of his former junior staff are now influential and global leaders in a multitude of medical disciplines. He published extensively in the fields of obesity and metabolic medicine and was a major international speaker.

He was awarded the OBE in the 1992 New Year’s Honours List and retired from the NHS in 1994.

Dr Munro served as a council member and, later, registrar at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. He was instrumental in developing and refining the MRCP (UK) post-graduate medical diploma exam and taking it to India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore, where he is still warmly remembered.

Away from medicine, Dr Munro had a lifelong interest in art, with many young artists working in Scotland owing a debt of gratitude to him for his encouragement, support and direction. He established a fund at the Eastern General and organised exhibitions there, predating and prompting the later development of the Paintings in Hospital scheme. At each exhibition, staff, patients and visitors were asked to vote on their favourite work and the painting with the most votes was then purchased and displayed in a patient area. He also ran the annual Christmas exhibition at the college for many years, raising many thousands of pounds for charity.

He was also an enthusiastic hockey player, expert fisherman, keen ornithologist and energetic gardener.

He married his wife Jeanie when he was a medical student and had three daughters and six grandsons.

A ceremony in remembrance of Dr Munro’s life and work will be held at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on October 11 at 6pm.