Dr Roy Astley

Obituaries - Clinical radiology
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Dr Roy Astley

13/11/1920 to 28/01/2000
Memoir Author: 
Kishore Shah

Dr Roy Astley, a pioneer Paediatric Radiologist died on 28th January 2000 at the age of 79 years. He became the first full-time paediatric radiologist in the U K when he was appointed consultant to the Birmingham Children;s Hospital (BCH) at the age of 28 in 1948, at the inception of the National Health Service.Roy was born, bred and educated in Birmingham; read medicine at the University of Birmingham with the support of a scholarship in Physics, and qualified in 1944 with distinction in Paediatrics, Medicine and Public Health. He obtained a Wartime Emergency Medical Service appointment at University College Hospital, London, where he trained as a radiologist, passing the DMR in 1945. He then served for three years with the R.A.M.C. as an army radiologist in the Middle-East.Roy was a BCH man; he dedicated the whole of his professional life to that institution, and worked hard to build it up as a centre of excellence with an international reputation. He passionately believed that full-time commitment to paediatrics was essential, and he practised paediatric radiology in close collaboration with clinicians, radiographers and other professionals. He vigorously controlled the quality of paediatric radiography by personally seeing every film of the examination before the child left the Radiology Department, and in urgent cases contacted the clinician concerned without delay. This was much appreciated and respected within the BCH and in return he demanded the clinical freedom to carry out whatever was radiologically necessary to elucidate a diagnostic problem. Requests for radiography carrying no relevant clinical details were likely to attract the cryptic report as requested Roy had a keen interest in cine-photography, and he applied this in developing paediatric cardiac catheterisation and cine-angiocardiography at Birmingham. He was the first person in Britain, possibly in the world, to apply image- intensification to cine-angiocardiography, using pulsed radiation from the outset. He successfully obtained the first cine-angiocardiogram in a child in the U.K. in August 1954 using home-made equipment, and later designed a new department which incorporated the first bi-plane cine-angiocardiography apparatus, manufactured and installed to his own specification. Those were the pioneer days and Roy thoroughly relished them. He was responsible for numerous scientific presentations and publications, and produced the classical monogram ;Radiology of the Alimentary Tract in Infancy; for which he was awarded an M.D. by the University of Birmingham in 1956. National and International recognition and honours came his way. The British Institute of Radiology awarded him the Stanley Melville Award (1954), Barclay Prize (1960) and the Barclay Medal (1976) with the citation ;For contribution of especial merit, contributing materially to the advancement of the science and practice of radiology; FRCR and FRCP(E) were confirmed and the European Society of Paediatric Radiology (ESPR) elected him as their President (1972-73) and to Honorary Membership (1984). Roy was a great supporter of the ESPR, and was a popular invited guest lecturer, travelling to the USA, South Africa and Europe. He was also a Corresponding Member of the Society of Pediatric Radiology of North America. The Radiologists; Visiting Club membership gave him much pleasure and he attended its bi-annual meetings regularly.Roy Astley was a reserved, somewhat shy, sensitive man; sometimes difficult, but always polite. He retired to his family and to his hobby of cine-photography, producing classical films and videos of Birmingham and the BCH. It is an irony that this NHS-committed Birmingham man could not be allocated an ITU bed in the West Midlands following a fall and car accident! He is survived by his loving wife, Joan, daughters Jane and Amanda and five grandchildren. Roy;s passing away brings to an end the early chapter of Paediatric Radiology in the U.K. and Europe.