Dr Michael Simcock
(1935 – 2016)
Michael Simcock was born in 1935 in Dunedin, where his father was a mature medical student and his mother (who graduated MB ChB in 1927) was lecturing in the Department of Bacteriology of the Medical School. He was educated at Hereworth School, Havelock North, where he was Head of School (Dux) in 1948 and then New Plymouth Boys’ High School, winning a University National Scholarship and was proxime accessit in 1952.
Mike had an outstanding academic record at the Medical School of the University of Otago. He was one of the few to be asked to take a BMedSc degree, which he did in biochemistry with Prof Norman Edson. From the fourth year of the medical course his main interest was obstetrics. He graduated MB ChB in 1959 at the top of his class, winning the Colquhoun prize for surgery, the Batchelor prize for obstetrics, and being awarded the travelling scholarship in obstetrics.
In 1960–61 he was a house surgeon with the Auckland Hospital Board; some of his extracurricular activities became legendary. His training in obstetrics continued at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne under Professor Sir Lance Townsend, where he lost his spleen (in a car accident) and gained his wife, Barbara, who was also a doctor.
After three years as a registrar, he and his family, now increased by two children, travelled to the UK in 1965, where he worked in Oxford at the Radcliffe Infirmary under Profs Stallworthy and Hawkesworth for two years and later in Northampton with Prof Bob van Amerongen.
At the end of this time he had gained his MRCOG and Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (FRCSEd) and, in 1968, he returned to Australia to work at the Royal Hospital for Women in Paddington under Prof Harvey Carey. To quote his own words ‘I found the cronyism and conservatism in the Sydney hospitals to be as bad as Melbourne so I ended up in Western Sydney pioneering partnerships in O&G, day surgery gynaecology, welcoming husbands into the labour ward and honing my skills in forceps deliveries.’
He is remembered fondly by two generations of women in Western Sydney, evidenced by the obvious admiration and loyalty engendered by his care for them. The obstetricians and gynaecologists he trained recall his combination of humility and confidence in the application of the principles of assessment of complex labours to decide what the best plan for delivery would be. They recall he was particularly skilful at rotational forceps deliveries. More importantly for them, he always made himself available, even when not rostered on call, for advice and attendance to supervise a difficult delivery. Invariably his legendary wit would set everyone at ease in the most stressful of situations. He retired from practice in 2005.
Mike died on 12 August 2016, aged 80. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Barbara, his three children, Suzie, Matthew and Victoria, and eight grandchildren.