Obituary | Dr Alan John Hewson

Dr Alan John Hewson

27 March 1927 –  19 August 2017 

His memorial service was held at Scots Kirk Hamilton on 9 September 2017

Alan was a home birth.  The local midwife delivered him in Lisarow, a village near Gosford.

His father was a farm labourer so Alan went through government schools. After doing his Leaving (HSC), he worked at BHP doing metallurgy for two years.  He then was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship to study medicine at Sydney University.  This gave him free tuition and a small living allowance.  He augmented this by working in the orange orchards in the university vacations. He was physically fit and tanned when he went back to study over the six years of the medical course.

He married Pia who graduated in medicine with him and they both came to Royal Newcastle as resident medical officers for three years.  He then decided to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology in Hobart and spent two years there before going to England to do his the specialty exam and work for two years at Oxford.

In 1958 he began private practice in Newcastle.  He had a very productive partnership with Jack Elliott.  Alan took a year’s sabbatical in 1965 to go to Edinburgh to study for the surgical fellowship.  He achieved this and returned to Newcastle.

Alan was a very skilful surgeon and obstetrician.  His rapport with his patients meant he had a huge private practice.  He told me he personally delivered seven thousand babies in addition to thousands of major operations. Remember this when I relate his unpaid contribution to education.

He had honorary appointments at RNH, Mater, WSH, Maitland, Singleton and Cessnock.  He operated at all of these.  He taught medical students, residents, registrars, family doctors and nurses and midwives.

He set up a medical association study in 1960 to improve the care of pregnant women.  There were over a hundred family doctors doing obstetrics in this region and he obtained the co-operation of them all.  He achieved a change in management which improved the outlook for mother and baby.

He has been involved in the College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology since 1967 when he set up a local branch of the college called the NOGS.  It was the first in Australia.  He served on the executive of the NSW branch for five years before he was elected to the Australian council in 1981.  He served on this for eleven years during which time he chaired the education committee and masterminded the obligatory continuing education and certification program of the College.  It has been a huge success and has formed the template of all the other Royal colleges.  He was awarded the presidents gold medal.  He later became secretary of the college and was involved in the evolution of sub specialties and relationships with family doctors and midwives.

Locally he was chairman of the medical board of RNH and co-ordinated with the AMA, the submission to the Karmel committee which recommended a medical school for Newcastle.  He was heavily involved in the integrated curriculum of the new medical school and became Conjoint Professor.  In 1990 he was awarded a Doctor of Medicine by the University of Newcastle.  He has been assistant Dean of continuing medical education since 1994.

He was a foundation member of the Hunter Postgraduate Medical Institute in 1979 and has served in the executive ever since.  He was Director of Studies at the time of his death.  He was happy to tell me the membership is almost two thousand, the largest in Australia.

He has held many positions in medical administration in the region.  He was chairman of the planning committee for the new John Hunter Hospital from 1983 to1990 and served on the Board of the hospital for four years.

He was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2002.

He has published in medical journals and recently was awarded a PhD for his thesis The History of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Australia 1950 to 2010. In this last year of his life he  published a hardcover book based on this thesis.

   Alan was married twice. With his first wife, Pia, he had three children. Pia died of a brain tumour and Alan subsequently married Patricia. They have been married for 40 years.

Alan’s children are Edward (Ted), Vicki and Lindy.

He has eight grandchildren and four great grandchrildren.