Royal and famous patients 2. Gold watches

Royal and famous patients 2. Gold watches

In the early 1980s the gulf countries had a lot of oil money but very few health resources. As a result, many patients came to London (and Germany) for treatment. They were certainly welcomed by those with private practices in Harley Street and elsewhere, including me.

For a while I was the primary contact for the embassy of one such kingdom, recommending and arranging consultations and care. One member of the royal family came with a list of 10 complaints. It was my job to assemble top specialists for each problem on one particular day in the penthouse suite of a London hotel. As a youngster I was intimidated dealing with some of the giants of our profession, but we got it done. The denouement came on a Sunday. My son came on his bicycle to find me on the golf course with the message that his highness wished to see me. I complied, somewhat reluctantly, and went into town. I was given gold watches for each of the specialists, and one for me with the king’s face on the dial.  

I had difficulty tracking down one of the specialists to give him his watch. It turned out that he had had to complete his treatment while flying with the patient back to his country on the royal jet.

Of course, those countries had the finances to build up their medical systems. For a while they were offering impressive inducements for British doctors to spend a year or two helping them to develop hospitals and medical schools. Some of my friends took the bait. Now they have excellent medical services, some of them developed in partnership with prestigious US medical centers. And, when care Is needed overseas, many patients now go to high quality centers in India.

My gold watch went on auction a few years at Sotheby’s but attracted even less interest than this story…..maybe he was no great sheikes by that time

All part of life’s rich tapestry

2 Responses

  1. Looking after a plethora of notables in the private wing of the now-demolished Middlesex Hospital, merely, mind you as a house surgeon in 1965, did bring some interesting encounters and gifts! Part of the fairly demanding duties that juniors had to do, was assist at many very major private procedures, which proved instructive. I had responsibility for most tasks (under a very technically able surgeon) except the operation! Since then, as a senior surgeon, it has been a privilege to look after other notables. I think the most memorable was the most highly decorated private soldier in the British Army, during WW1.

    • petercotto says:

      Thanks Mick,
      There is an interesting story about the private wing of the Middlesex,called the Woolovington Wing. As a renowned historian, you will know if it is true.
      The trusteees were looking for donations to pay for the new wing. A northern businessman was prepared to pay, but wanted to be made a Lord.
      The trustees demurred until they received a large check from “Lord Woolavington” that could only be cashed in that name.
      All part of life’s rich tapestry

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