Hospital centre named after F1 doctor

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The Walton Centre © Rept0n1x / Wikipedia Creative Commons

The Walton Centre © Rept0n1x / Wikipedia Creative Commons

A Liverpool neurosurgeon who transformed medical standards in Formula 1 racing has had a new building at the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust named after him.

The Sid Watkins Building is in memory of Professor Sid Watkins, a distinguished brain surgeon who transformed safety standards in Formula 1 racing by improving medical facilities and equipment at Grand Prix circuits around the world in his 26 seasons as an F1 doctor. He died in 2012.

The £29 million, three-storey building will open next January and will facilitate medical training, a brain injuries unit, a rehabilitation unit and pain management.

Caroline Kenyan, associate director of communications at the Walton Centre, told JMU Journalism: “The Sid Watkins Building will provide incredible facilities for patients recovering from brain injuries and illness, as well as for training new junior doctors, and we hope that the naming recognises Professor Watkin’s fantastic achievements, and relentless drive to improve care.”

She said the Home from Home Appeal, a fundraising initiative to raise £500,000 for urgently needed relatives’ accommodation inside the new building, has already reached its target.

“This would enable family members to stay near seriously ill loved ones while they undergo treatment in our hospital,” Kenyan explained.

The idea to name the building after the man universally known as ‘Prof’ by drivers and officials came from the doctors at the Walton Centre with the late neurosurgeon’s wife, Susan Watkins, giving her blessing.

Having qualified as a doctor in 1952, Professor Watkins did national service and became an army doctor with the rank of captain. Ten years later, the man known as ‘Sid’ to his friends was appointed professor of neurosurgery at the University of New York in Syracuse.

Returning to England in 1969, he became professor of neurosurgery at the London Hospital, now the Royal London. Then, in 1978, Bernie Ecclestone sought out “Prof’s” expertise to overhaul the Formula 1 medical facilities and to organise new safety procedures.

About Emily Lewis, JMU Journalism