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15 August 2023

A Tribute to Professor Richard Phillips, Deputy Dean for the MBBS Programme

We are deeply saddened to share news of the recent passing of Professor Richard John Wyndham Phillips, Deputy Dean of the Medical School and a much-loved lecturer, mentor and colleague.

Professor Richard Phillips
The late Professor Richard Phillips, right, with the Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, Professor Ajay Shah.

Described as the ‘backbone of the MBBS programme’, Professor Phillips worked within the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine for more than 25 years, first as a Senior Lecturer and subsequently as Deputy Dean, a role he held since 2010. During that time, he contributed significantly to the Faculty’s success, and helped to launch the careers of thousands of medical students, many of whom cite his support and guidance as crucial to their Medical School experience and subsequent achievements. He was also a valued mentor to many educators within the GKT Medical School. At the Faculty Staff Awards in July this year, he was named winner of the Executive Dean’s Special Award for Outstanding Citizenship (Lifetime Award).

Raised in South Wales, Professor Phillips undertook preclinical studies at King’s College Cambridge in the 1970s, transferring to clinical studies in Oxford. He was an excellent GP, working in Brixton for many years, much loved by his patients. He helped to establish domiciliary care for patients with HIV in the early part of the HIV epidemic, as well as providing enhanced care for patients with drug and alcohol problems, work which saw him awarded Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) in 2008.

This pioneering clinical work was matched by innovation in the Medical School. In the early 1990s he brought early years GP exposure to the school, pioneered communications skills training and introduced us to the world of Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). ‘RJWP’, as he was fondly known, was most recently the MBBS lead for careers, supporting students with career planning, liaising with Foundation Schools and applications for Academic Foundation training. He was key to preparedness for practice and preparation for the Situational Judgement Test having previously been head of both Years 3 and 5. He also taught clinical decision-making, ethics and professionalism and was Chair of the Mitigating Circumstances Panel, covering professional programmes within Medical Education, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy and Nutrition & Dietetics.

Outside King’s, Richard was an external examiner to the Medical Degree programmes at a number of universities including Imperial, Edinburgh, Manchester, Keele, Leeds and Limerick, as well as External Peer to the Curriculum Review at the University of Leicester. In his spare time, he was a passionate opera and ballet aficionado, travelling the world to watch his favourites.

Professor Ajay Shah, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine said: “Richard always led with authenticity, integrity and compassion. His legacy will live on in both the Medical School and the Faculty, and he will be deeply missed. I offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

Professor Nicki Cohen, Dean of Medical Education added: “In both his kindness and his consistent commitment to excellence in education, Richard was absolutely one of a kind. I am beyond honoured to have been his colleague and friend.”