Designatory Letters: 
MB Aberd 1986, MD Aberd 1994, MRCP UK 1989, FRCP Lond 2001, FRCP Edin 2003

(By Brian Kirby)

Kenneth McIntyre MacLeod, who died suddenly while playing tennis, was one of Britain's leading diabetologists and an inspirational medical teacher.

He devoted his life to improving the care of those with diabetes, taking a special interest in trying to reduce the damaging effects of the disease on blood vessels and in overcoming a problem arising from treatment with insulin when the glucose level falls too low, hypoglycaemia.

His researches have considerably reduced this hazard so that, in a scientific paper published last year, he showed diabetic drivers were just as safe as other motorists.

His pioneering work in this field was recognised by membership of the secretary of state's Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Diabetes Mellitus.

He not only excelled in the treatment of diabetes but was eagerly sought as a consultant physician with skill in the wider field of clinical medicine.

All patients found great comfort in his ability to listen, to explain their problem and to outline clearly what was to be done about it. It is a mark of the high regard in which he was held by the medical profession that so many sought out his skill for their own and their family's care.

Arriving in Exeter, he joined with enthusiasm in the task of improving services for diabetic patients by breaking down barriers between consultants and general practitioners and by his advocacy for engaging everyone, including opticians, in the need for early detection of eye damage caused by the disease.

As a consequence he was appointed to two Department of Health groups improving health service provision.

Realising contented staff provided better service, he also researched the satisfaction of staff members in the jobs they were doing.

From his early years as a doctor he had taken considerable interest in medical education. Latterly, he had a particular mission to ensure that the traditional skills in physical examination were retained.

In an era when rapid development of laboratory and imaging diagnostic methods was leading some doctors to put too much emphasis on them, he saw how the traditional skills and newer methods were complementary.

His teaching of clinical medicine to small groups was inspirational, bringing into play his development of new teaching methods. These attributes were recognised nationally by his election to foundation membership of the Academy of Medical Educators and internationally by the Harvard Macy Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston, US.

He was born in Falkirk and educated at Stenhousemuir and Larbert High School before entering Aberdeen University for his medical training.

As an undergraduate he distinguished himself by winning a number of prizes before graduating with commendation in 1986.

By the time he was appointed a medical registrar, his later interests were developing already: he was clinical tutor as well as being honorary research fellow in the health services research unit of the University of Aberdeen.

He followed this with a research appointment in diabetes in the department of medicine, University of Edinburgh, before returning to clinical work, first at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, then at the Western General Hospital.

In 1994 he moved to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital as a senior registrar. Exciting developments were under way in breaking down the barriers between general practice and hospital based medicine, with opportunities for research into health service provision.

Moreover, there were facilities for expanding his research into the damage to blood vessels arising from diabetes.

Discussion "vas in progress already about a new undergraduate medical school exploring newer ways of teaching medicine, thereby offering opportunities to explore further the field of medical education.

With his formidable talents he was soon appointed (1996) as a consultant physician to the hospital and senior lecturer by the University of Exeter. When the new medical school was founded in 2000 he was the obvious person to take over and establish the programme in clinical teaching.

He became the director of clinical studies and associate dean. This was no easy task as he had to reconcile groups with established views and others who wanted newer methods but without having established their effectiveness. Here his personal attributes brought him to the fore. He gave a fair hearing, even to sometimes widely differing views, before coming to a decision -and his decisions were always regarded as impeccably honest even by those who might have disagreed with them.

As a man of great personality and considerable humour, he filled a room so that it was difficult to disagree with him. By these means he was able to get the clinical programme established in a relatively short time.

Researches were not deserted. He published more than 100 original scientific papers, gave many external lectures and, at the time of his death, was a co-ordinator of 16 multi-centre studies.

An account of his professional life alone would omit his profound Christian belief.In a quiet, non-evangelical way this pervaded all his everyday activities at home and at work -he led by example rather than by proselytising.

In spite of both their busy lives, with his wife, Stephanie, a teacher, he was active in youth work in his church, where he was also a church warden. He had three children: Ethan, who enters medical school this autumn, Hope and Daniel. The esteem with which he was he ld was manifest by some 900 people turning up on a Monday morning to his funeral.

We are indebted to The Times for the information in this obituary.