Dr James Michael Gumpel MA BM BCH Oxon FRC Lond
(St Thomas’, Medicine, 1960)
An acute care doctor with a passion for DIY and gardening.
James Michael Gumpel (‘Michael’) was born in Berlin in 1936. After taking A-levels in languages at Highgate School, London, he eventually won a place at Trinity College, Oxford, to study medicine. He did his clinical training at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. He met his first wife, Shirley Fisher, while working at Whittington Hospital in north London, and they were both awarded fellowships at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, USA, from 1962 to 1965.
On returning to London, Michael was appointed consultant physician specialising in rheumatology and acute care medicine at Northwick Park Hospital from its opening in 1970, and he remained there until his retirement from the NHS in 1997. He pioneered treatment using colloidal gold and injections of radioisotopes such as yttrium to ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. He co-authored 129 papers listed in PubMed between 1967 and 2003 in peer-reviewed journals such as The Lancet, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Rheumatology and Gut, publishing with research colleagues at the Medical Research Council’s clinical research centre at Northwick Park Hospital, the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital and with Ingvar Bjarnason, latterly at King’s College London. He campaigned for better funding for medicine, and published a joint letter in The BMJ with Peter Richards in 1997 to the then secretary of state for health, Frank Dobson, about the problems in acute hospital services in the NHS.
Michael and his second wife, Carole, ran his private practice in Harley Street and the Clementine Churchill Hospital, where he had many loyal patients whom he continued to see after he left the NHS and finally retired from private medicine in 2007. He travelled regularly with Carole to medical conferences. He harnessed his energies into DIY and gardening at a succession of homes, most recently at Bentley Priory in Stanmore, where he enjoyed developing the grounds of the estate and contributing to the gardening committee.
Michael is missed by his wife, Carole; his three children, Nicky, Jon and Sophie; his stepson, Andrew; and 10 grandchildren, two of whom have followed him into medicine.
Details from this obituary have been taken from the obituary published for Michael in The BMJ, 11 November 2022, by Nicky Carling, Sophie Watkins and Jonathon Gumpel.