|Description||Henry Johnston Scott Matthew was born in Edinburgh on 22 March 1914. After schooling at Edinburgh Academy he studied medicine at Edinburgh University, graduating in the top five in the final examinations of 1937. There followed house posts in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, but a career in surgery was cut short when he was called for service in the Second World War. After being invalided out of the war and following a period of recovery, he went into general practice and became a clinical tutor in medicine at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in 1945. In time he rose through the career grades until he was appointed a consultant physician to the Royal Infirmary five years later.|
In 1964, Matthew launched himself into clinical toxicology. It was an opportune moment: he had given up private practice, a UK-wide poisons information service had just been established with a centre in Edinburgh and the Medical Research Council had recently opened a Unit for the Epidemiology of Psychiatric Illness at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, with self-harm one of its major concerns.
The Scottish Poisons Information Bureau (SPIB) was inaugurated on 2 September 1963, with Dr Harold V Street as its director, and similar units opened in London and the capitals of Wales and Northern Ireland around the same time. Street was an analytical chemist on the staff of the Department of Forensic Medicine of the University of Edinburgh and this was the initial location of the SPIB. However, having a service for the living operating from a department preoccupied with the dead and one that was not staffed 24 hours a day was clearly not ideal. When Street resigned in July 1965, Matthew became its director.
Contents: Photographs of Henry Matthew (20th century)