Tribute to Dr Janet Anderson

Professor Sir Alan Craft pays tribute to Dr Janet Anderson, a general paediatrician in Wolverhampton with a special interest in diabetes. For many years she was involved in training at RCPCH and was an Honorary Fellow.
Dr Janet Anderson

Dr Janet Anderson died on 3 March 2023 at the age of 81. She was born in 1941 and brought up in Nuneaton, Warwickshire and had a younger brother John. Her father worked for the Royal Mail. Her parents and grandparents had high expectations for her. After secondary school at Quorn Grammar School she studied medicine at Charing Cross and decided on a career in paediatrics. She married Lawrence who was an army officer so her early years as a doctor were punctuated by regular moves and having two sons.

She was one of the first doctors to take advantage of the Married Doctors Retainer Scheme which allowed her to complete her training including taking her personal Senior Registrar post to Bath. After posts in London and Derby she was appointed as a consultant in Wolverhampton where she developed the paediatric service taking a special interest in diabetes. However she always insisted that she was a specialist in general paediatrics.

Her interest in training came to the attention of the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Kenneth Calman and he invited her to his group who were reviewing training with a special interest in what was called “The Lost Tribe”. These were doctors between House Physician/Surgeon and the registrar grade ie SHOs, for whom training and career progression appeared haphazard. A more structured training programme was produced which eventually led on to Modernising Medical careers with properly structured training.

When RCPCH was established, Janet became the Donald Court Fellow, named after a previous BPA president, and was the officer responsible for General Professional Training. She was one of the key people who took over responsibility for training from the Royal Colleges of Physicians when the BPA became RCPCH and she was heavily involved in exams becoming Principal Examiner for the far east.

Some of the comments made by her peers and colleagues include;

She was diligent, well informed, always contributed her expertise willingly and was well respected by her peers.

She was bright, well organised, an excellent paediatrician who did not suffer fools. Greatly respected by trainees who talked glowingly about their experience in Wolverhampton.

She was an exceptionally astute paediatrician often called on for a second opinion in puzzling cases.

A high work ethic she always wanted to make a difference. Clinics regularly over ran but parents did not seem to mind as they knew they would get an excellent opinion.

Empathic and compassionate towards her patients and colleagues.

Doctors from overseas were particularly well looked after and there is a separate tribute from the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians and paediatricians in Ghana.

Her family recall that she would often bring home what seemed like medical 'waifs and strays', particularly at Christmas when they had no family to go to. 

Her knowledge of the needs of children was recognised by hospital managers and this continued into retirement and she joined the Hospital Board of Directors where her advice was invaluable. Chairman of Penn Hall special school governors and of ComptonCare Hospice trustees, where she eventually died, kept her busy in retirement. She also became a lay preacher in her local Methodist church.

Examinations were another key interest which persisted well into retirement, and was pressed back into service during the COVID pandemic. She was central to the development of the new clinical MRCPCH exam and travelled widely teaching and examining paediatricians and was held in high regard by overseas examination centre staff.

Daniel Crane from the RCPCH commented;

I cannot think of many people who have contributed so much to the exam. She was a lovely lady, a great source of wisdom and experience, a true professional and very giving of her time and dedicated to her work.

She leaves her husband Lawrence, two sons, a paediatrician and a teacher and five grandchildren.