WS/Captain James Parlane Baird
MB ChB (Ed 1937) MRCP (Ed 1946) FRCP (Ed 1952) MD (Ed 1958) FRCP (Lond 1959)
12 May 1915 [Burghead Morayshire] – 26 May 2007
12 Dec 1939 Short Service Commission Lieutenant RAMC.
12 Dec 1940 Captain RAMC.
1940–1941 Regimental Medical Officer 11 (Scottish) Commando in Layforce.
1941–1942 Served with the Middle East Force and The Central Mediterranean Force.
21 Aug 1944 Taken on the strength of 90 GH. Arrived from 78 Psychiatric Hospital. Served at Malta as a graded physician.
12 Dec 1944 Permanent Regular Army Commission Captain RAMC.
1945 Served at Malta.
2 Apr 1946 Acting Major RAMC.
1946 Specialist in Medicine.
12 Dec 1947 Major RAMC.
1947–1948 Officer-in-Charge Medical Division Cambridge Military Hospital Aldershot.
1948–1949 Command Advisor in medicine to British Troops in Austria with the rank of Lt Col.
1950–1951 Posted for one year as specialist physician to the Brooke Army Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, under the exchange scheme with the Medical Corps United States Army.
1951 Medical Specialist Queen Alexandra Military Hospital.
1953–1958 Assistant Professor of Tropical Medicine Royal Army Medical College Millbank.
4 Sept 1958 Lieutenant Colonel RAMC.
1958–1961 Officer-in-Charge Medical Division BMH Singapore.
1961–1965 Assistant Professor of Tropical Medicine Royal Army Medical College Millbank. Officer-in-Charge Medical Division Queen Alexandra Military Hospital Millbank.
12 Dec 1962 Colonel L/RAMC.
1963 Consultant in Medicine.
1965 Professor of Military Medicine Royal Army Medical College Millbank.
1973 Director-General Army Medical Services. His obituary in the Times states:
The RAMC was in a parlous state when he took over as its professional head. The Jarrett Report of October 1973 on the medical services of the three armed forces had not recommended unification, but called for closure of hospitals, amalgamation of medical units and damaging cuts in staff.
Recruiting for the RAMC had slumped; premature voluntary retirement had accelerated, yet operational commitments were increasing in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Belize and Oman, and with no compensating easing of pressure in BAOR or at home where family medical care was increasing in step with the National Health Service.
Baird persuaded the Army Board to take three revolutionary steps to correct the general malaise in the Army Medical Services. First, he overcame the prejudices against accepting female doctors into the Army. Secondly, he won agreement to the use of Territorial Army doctors overseas to provide temporary relief for the hard-pressed regulars. Thirdly, he conceived the idea of making greater use of the skills of male nurses with state registered nurse qualifications by appointing some of them as regimental medical officers' assistants, thus releasing trained doctors for more urgent work.
Baird's most tenacious battle was fought to save the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital under construction at Woolwich. The Jarrett Report had recommended its hand over to the NHS on completion. Baird fought back, insisting on the Services' need for a teaching hospital near the other London teaching hospitals after the Millbank military hospital was closed and its buildings handed over to become an extension to the Tate Gallery.
When Baird's extended tour of Director-General ended in 1977, he was able to hand over a medical service that was recruiting well, with morale restored and with a new flagship hospital at Woolwich due for commissioning.1
2 June 1973 Made a Knight Commander of the Most Venerable Order of the British Empire, in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
1977 Retired with the rank of Lieutenant General. Post retirement he was medical adviser to the National Advice Centre of the Council for Postgraduate Medical Education and deputy director of the British Postgraduate Medical Centre until 1984.
- Entry No: 1768. Drew R. 1968. Commissioned Offices in the Medical Services of the British Army 1690—1960. Vol. II. Roll of Officers in the Royal Army Medical Corps 1898–1960, London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library.
- 1Obituary The Times on Line 6 June 2007.
- TNA:WO 177/1360, War Diaries No 90 General Hospital April 1940 to September 1946.