MB ChB Manchester (1956) MRCP London (1961) FRCP 1974
b.27 April 1932 d.17 October 2018
Tony Ralston was an eminent and respected physician and nephrologist at Withington Hospital, Manchester who made considerable contributions to medical education and renal services in the northwest of England
He was born in Ilkeston in Derbyshire and the family moved to Manchester in 1939. His father James was a builder contractor, born in Scotland, who married Elizabeth Taylor a secretary in Ilkeston during the time of the Great Depression and died when Tony was sixteen.
With limited finances, Tony was educated at William Hulme’s Grammar school with a scholarship from the Manchester City Fathers who continued to support him through Medical school. He won a number of prestigious prizes and on qualification was appointed house physician at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) to Professor Robert Platt (later Sir Robert Platt PRCP).
Successive posts at MRI followed including the coveted year as resident clinical pathologist and during this time he met his future wife Pat who was working there as a radiographer. Called up to National Service in 1960, he became a Junior Specialist in the RAMC at the Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot. At the end of the compulsory two years he was pressured to do a further year in Germany and only avoided this with a letter to his MP which was recorded in Hansard.
Returning to the NHS his first appointment was with Professor R W Gilliatt at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in London before resuming at MRI with Dr H T Howat. After two years as Tutor in Medicine he became Senior Registrar to Professor D A K Black (later Sir Douglas Black PRCP) and developed an interest in renal disease.
In 1967 he was appointed Consultant Physician at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary but a year later he was delighted to return to teaching when invited to Withington, University Hospital of South Manchester, as Consultant Physician and Nephrologist to set up the first Home Haemodialysis training facility as part of the Northwest Regional renal replacement service.
His organisational and diplomatic skills ensured the successful development of a strong team of nursing, technical and support staff closely integrated with the hospital and which endured throughout until Withington hospital closed in 2001 and renal services transferred to MRI.
He had been joined as consultant colleague by Peter Ackrill in 1975 and together they developed one of the largest home haemodialysis programs in the country from Cumbria in the north to Cheshire and Derbyshire in the south. Together they published papers on dialysis, notably on the role of aluminium intoxication and treatment of dialysis encephalopathy.
Education was always his major interest and in 1977 he became Sub-Dean and then Dean of Clinical Studies at Manchester University for ten years until 1987. During part of this period he also chaired the Speciality training group in Medicine at the North Wet Regional Health Authority.
Thereafter he was largely committed to administration, initially Chairman of the Withington Hospital Medical Executive Committee and then Medical Director, South Manchester University Hospital Trust until he retired in 1996. Throughout the whole of this period he continued to run a general medical firm.
Tony Ralston was a shrewd clinician and a diligent doctor, always well mannered and a gentleman who listened to his patients with integrity and inspired complete confidence and trust. A popular and respected teacher, he was always supportive and never critical of people. Despite his formidable workload, he was accessible, invariably calm and unflustered, and as a colleague he was the ‘go to’ person who knew how to navigate the system and get things done. A good judge of character, he was constantly sought for his wisdom and advice invariably given with good humour. Tall, relatively shy and undemonstrative in public, although well capable of making his point, socially he was really good company. His home was always open to his many friends and relatives and for many years his New Years Eve party was legendary.
In retirement he and Pat travelled the world visiting their children and family, interspersed with more exotic trips to Alaska and the Falkland Isles, but particularly enjoying and participating in the growing up of their eight grandchildren
Tony is survived by Pat and their four children. David is a consultant plastic surgeon, Ian studied naval architecture and works in IT in Holland, Susan is a nursery nurse, teacher and manager, and Helen a zoology graduate and biology teacher.