Dr Frederick John William Miller

James Spence Medallist

Date of death: 30 March 1996

Year James Spence Medal awarded: 1987

Dr Fred Miller qualified from the Medical School of the University of Durham (now the University of Newcastle upon Tyne) and became a pioneer of paediatrics along with Sir James Spence and Donald Court. He was heavily influenced by the poverty and childhood disease he witnessed in the North East of England, leading him to an interest in social paediatrics. He began his career in Newcastle and at Great Ormond Street and, after working in Brompton Hospital, became interested in chest disease.

He returned to Newcastle and, with Sir James Spence, studied the circumstances surrounding infant death at home or in hospital in the city of Newcastle, which showed more about the hazards of birth, prematurity and infection. Miller then spent three years as a medical specialist in the army during the war, before returning to Newcastle to research the ‘1000 families’ with Sir James Spence and Donald Court. The study was of vast importance to the child health service.

Dr Miller was one of the early neonatologists and while working as a paediatrician to the Maternity Unit of Newcastle General Hospital he developed a home nursing service for premature infants. He also contributed to the field of tuberculosis. He was appointed Reader in Social Paediatrics in the University of Durham and spent time studying and reporting on child health in India.