Dr Paul Strickland OBE

Obituaries - Clinical oncology
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Dr Paul Strickland OBE

03/01/1921 to 02/07/2013
Memoir Author: 
Dr Andrew Gogbashian

Dr Paul Strickland, who has died aged 92, founded the Scanner Centre in Mount Vernon Hospital, which bears his name. He established the centre in 1985 and for 26 years played a significant role, first as medical manager and then as a trustee and honorary medical director. In 2011 he was named “founder and honorary life president”.

Qualifying as a doctor in 1943, he first came to Mount Vernon Hospital in 1946 as a clinical assistant, became consultant radiotherapist in 1956 and was director of what is now the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre from 1970 to 1982. For some part of that time he was also Medical Director of the hospital and played a key role in its medical management. He also held out-patient clinics at Hillingdon Hospital, Hertford County Hospital and held twice monthly Saturday morning clinics at Herts and Essex County Hospital at Bishops Stortford. In 1988, some years after his official retirement as an NHS consultant radiotherapist, he was awarded an OBE.

With his extensive experience as a radiotherapy doctor he was convinced that early scanning could save the lives of patients with cancer and other serious diseases and he tried to persuade the NHS to install a CT scanner at Mount Vernon but funds were not available. Paul felt strongly that Mount Vernon, which was after all one of the largest cancer treatment centres in the country, should have its own scanner. So he became Vice Chairman of the Mount Vernon Scanner Appeal which launched in February 1983, and with “rage and enthusiasm” - his own words - he started to raise donations to obtain a CT scanner aiming to reach £1,250,000 in three years. He captured the imagination of the public and in just two years £1,700,000 was raised, enough to fund a CT and an MRI scanner and the building to house them.

Since 1985, the centre has continued as a charity and the CT and MRI scanners have been replaced and added to. When Positron Emission Tomography (PET) was a revolution in medical imaging in 1997 the centre installed the first clinical PET scanner in the UK. Four years later a Cyclotron unit was built to produce the tracer for it and to guarantee supply. In 2004 the first static combined PET/CT scanner for clinical use in the UK was installed and in 2005 the first ever 3T MRI scanner in the UK outside of a research facility, and for clinical use, was installed.

Paul Strickland worked hard to ensure the centre was at the forefront of scanning technology and in 2011 after 65 years of service to patients attending Mount Vernon Hospital he retired once again. He remained ever interested in the centre's activities and today the facility remains at the forefront of scanning technology and is an important centre for research. Paul Strickland was a great inspiration to all who knew him and his lasting legacy is the success story that is the Paul Strickland Scanner Centre. He was a true visionary who foresaw the need for advanced imaging and who gave a lifetime of service to cancer patients. He is fondly remembered for his powerful personality, his extraordinary energy and zest for life.

Messages of sympathy should only be sent via Mrs M Sullivan, Chief Executive, Paul Strickland Scanner Centre, Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, Middlesex HA6 2RN