Vale - Emeritus Professor Neil Edwin Carson AO

VALE - EMERITUS PROFESSOR NEIL EDWIN CARSON AO MBBS, (Melbourne), FRACP,  

FRACGP, FAMA, Hon MD (Monash) 15.10.1927 - 10.6.2020

General Practice Visionary Leader

Foundation Professor-Community Medicine/General Practice

We are sad to announce the passing of one of the pioneers of the Faculty of Medicine, Monash University. Neil Carson attended Box Hill High School and Carey Grammar School where he received the Doery Scholarship. He graduated from Medicine at the University of Melbourne in 1950. After graduation he served as an RMO at Geelong and District Hospital. He choose a career in General Practice and practised at the Blackburn Clinic- a model teaching practice - which he founded and worked as a full time or part time GP for 40 years leading to a rich connection with the Blackburn community.

Neil who has been described variously ‘empire builder’ ‘medical faculty entrepreneur’ ‘talent spotter par excellence’, ‘academic trouble shooter’ was a very energetic leader and achiever and threw himself into many leading projects including leadership roles of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners where he undertook several high profile positions including Chairman of Victoria Faculty, Chairman of the Academy of GP and Censor in Chief.  During this productive clinical period he achieved his Fellowship of the RACGP and also that of the Royal College of Physicians-a remarkable achievement for a busy general practitioner. He also served as an honorary physician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital for 6 years and Box Hill Hospital for 8 years.

In the 1970s the Government established long overdue Departments of General Practice in the Universities and Monash University in 1975 saw fit to appoint Neil as the foundation Professor of General Practice –then called Community Practice and subsequently Community Medicine, and then General Practice. At first his department was under the umbrella of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the Alfred Hospital where he was provided with meagre resources. In a clever move in 1978 he broke away to establish the independent Department of Community Medicine at East Bentleigh with the East Bentleigh Medical Group headed by Dr Alan Rose as the University Teaching practice. His negotiating skills and vision lead to the development of a very prestigious and productive Department described by Dean Graeme Schofield as ‘the jewel in the crown' of the Medical Faculty.

He had a keen eye for talent and appointed several scholars (part time) in education and research including Alan Rose, Ian Rowe, Wesley Fabb, John Murtagh, Leon Piterman, Michael Crampton, and Branko Csenik. He was the founder and first president of the Australian Association for Academic General Practice and this provided to opportunity for young talented registrars such as Michael Kidd, Chris Silagy, Craig Hassed, Danielle Mazza and Roger Strasser to be mentored in the department with all reaching great academic achievements. He also possessed smart negotiating and entrepreneurial skills which rendered the department sustainable in a difficult environment. He was also loyal, supportive and caring for his staff. Neil was also a dedicated family man and well supported by his wonderful wife Bonnie and his four children.

Neil served as Head of Department from 1975 until his retirement in 1992. He received many awards and honours including an Honorary MD, Officer of the Order of Australia and Rose Hunt Award of the RACGP. He was honoured in perpetuity when the Medal for the outstanding Medical student in the Department was designated the Neil Carson Award. He then accepted an appointment as Professor of Family Medicine at The University of United Arab Emirates for three years.

Neil left a huge footprint on the discipline of General Practice including Academic General Practice and Medicine in General. Thank you Neil for your outstanding far reaching pioneering contribution to our Medical Profession and General Practice in particular.

Emeritus Professor John Murtagh AO
Department of General Practice
School of Primary Health Care
Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences