Public health consultant;

Born: November 20, 1932; Died: July 18, 2012.


JOHN Bryden graduated in medicine at Glasgow University in 1956 and after completing his national service worked in orthopaedics and became a GP covering Mosspark and Govan. An early interest in optical character recognition and computer programming led to a three-year fellowship in administrative medicine and a diploma in social medicine from Edinburgh University.

In his final year he was on the commissioning team for Woodside Health Centre and set up its computerised patient index, improving preventive medicine. He became medical superintendent for Paisley and District Hospitals in 1971 and completed his MSc in industrial administration with reference to health services at Strathclyde University.

He was appointed Chief Administrative Medical Officer to the new Argyll and Clyde Health Board and 3000 square miles of land and sea, from urban Paisley to Coll and Tiree, threw up problems with isolation. An Argyll and Clyde radio telephone network was set up with fixed bases in hospitals and GPs' homes, and about 100 radio-telephones installed in doctors' and nurses' cars. Compact Emergency Bags, which could be fitted easily to a rucksack frame, were also provided.

Between 1973 and 1981, he led a Health Boards Informatics Team which jointly developed a community health register for a combined population of 1.4 million using optical character recognition. It was known as the Community Health Index (CHI) and the unique identification number is now used on all prescriptions and many medical communications throughout Scotland. His next post was senior epidemiologist with the head injury research team in the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, where he was involved in research on post-head injury morbidity.

In 1986 he designed a diary for new doctors starting in the hospital. He continued as epidemiologist and consultant in public and hospital health with Greater Glasgow Health Board and in 1990 brought the European Federation for Medical Informatics Conference to Glasgow.

After retiring, he ran his own private company providing expertise and trouble-shooting in his speciality. He helped with the difficulties of starting a needle exchange clinic required because of an outbreak of Hepatitis B, and backed the Heartstart campaign, which encouraged all citizens to learn basic resuscitation.

He became a Scottish Blue Badge Tour Guide qualified to guide in French as well as English, thanks to many Brittany holidays. He trained as a tram driver at Summerlee Museum in Coatbridge, delighting his grandchildren when they came for a tram ride. He also enjoyed steam engines, especially those of the steamers which in his schooldays took him from Millport to Rothesay Academy, all trains, canals, sailing, genealogy, cooking, DIY and learning to play the concertina. He was a great conversationalist who felt he had a wonderful life.

He is survived by his wife Grace, their children Helen, John and Maz, and their seven grandchildren.