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John Wedgwood was born in London on 28 September 1919, a direct descendant of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the world famous pottery firm. He qualified from Trinity College, Cambridge, and Guy's Hospital Medical School. He passed the conjoint examination in 1943 and promptly joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, becoming surgeon lieutenant and serving in Europe and the Far East. His career in the Royal Navy ended when his minesweeper, HMS Squirrel, was mined. He suffered severe injuries to his left leg and back, which became increasing troublesome as he grew older.
In 1947 he completed his Cambridge medical degrees and passed the MRCP examination in 1949. Initially he wanted to be a cardiologist but became a geriatrician when his interest in care of the elderly and rehabilitation was ignited when he surveyed 200 chronically sick patients in a Cambridge workhouse. His first consultant appointment in 1960 was at Bury St Edmunds. He had no medical, rehabilitation, or secretarial staff and to improve medical recruitment he started teaching for the MRCP examination. The wards were grossly overcrowded: one of which still had gas lighting. Only relentless nagging of authorities resulted in new wards and improved facilities for the patients and for teaching. This appointment, and those which followed, allowed him to develop his four driving characteristics: rehabilitation, improving patient accommodation, multidisciplinary teaching, and research. In 1968 he was appointed consultant geriatrician at the Middlesex Hospital. There he established multidisciplinary teaching for medical students, nurses, and paramedical staff. In 1980 he was appointed director of the Royal Hospital for Incurables at Putney, where he successfully raised funds for new buildings, started multidisciplinary teaching, and continued his research interests, publishing nearly 50 articles.
He retired in 1986 and was appointed CBE in 1987. He was now appointed chairman of the Royal Surgical Aid Society (AgeCare). He organised large multidisciplinary conferences on good food for residents and improved design of care homes; developed thriving multidisciplinary teaching in the society's homes, and opened new residential/nursing homes.
He supported the British Geriatrics Society, being its treasurer, chairman of the executive committee, and chairman of the editorial board of the society's journal, Age and Ageing. He reorganised the society's structure so that it became a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.
He was a non-executive director of the family firm from 1967 to 1986, during which time it changed from one controlled by the family to a listed public company.
He married, first, Margaret (“Peggy”) Mason in 1943 (dissolved in 1971) and, second, Jo Tamlyn (née Ripsher) in 1972. He died in Shepperton on 30 August 2007 and is survived by three sons, one stepson, and two daughters.
Former director Royal Hospital for Incurables, Putney (b 1919; q Cambridge/Guy's Hospital, London, 1943; CBE, MA, MD, FRCP), d 30 August 2007.