Professor Garry David Phillips
(1936 - 2016)

We learned with great sadness the passing of Prof Garry David Phillips, an Honorary Fellow and close friend of our College. He had made great contributions to our College when we were young.

Professor Phillips was born on 7th November 1936 in Bendigo Victoria. He completed his medical education in Sydney and obtained the MBBS degrees in 1965. After rotating through junior and senior residency programmes in New South Wales and Tasmania, he worked as an anaesthetic registrar at St. George Hospital, Sydney for three years and obtained the Fellowship of the Faculty of Anaesthetists, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FFARACS) in 1969. Then he spent a year as research senior registrar under Sir Geoffrey Organe at Magill Department of Anaesthetics, Westminster Hospital, London, and another year in intensive care at Karolinska Institute, Sweden and The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. In 1973, Professor Phillips returned to St. George Hospital as Director of Intensive Care.

In 1976, he became the Director of Intensive Care at the newly established Flinders Medical Centre at Adelaide while concurrently being appointed as Senior Lecturer of Flinders University. His responsibility for the Intensive Care Unit included parenteral nutrition, resuscitation, trauma and medical retrieval service. From 1982 to 1989, Professor Philips took up the additional portfolio as Director of Accident and Emergency Department. In this connection, he became a foundation fellow of the Australian College of Emergency Medicine and served on the examination panel and as Censor in Chief. In 1992, he became the Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care of the Flinders University and Chairman of the Division of Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Emergency Medicine of Flinders Medical Centre. He was appointed as Emeritus Professor of Flinders University after his retirement.

Professor Philips contributed substantially to anaesthesia, intensive care, training and research. From1988 to 1995, he served as the Director in South Australia for the Early Management of Severe Trauma (EMST) Course for RACS. His research interests included parenteral nutrition, computer based patient monitoring and data analysis, trauma and poisoning. He studied and published trace element and amino acid requirements in parenteral nutrition in late seventies and early eighties resulting in his book ‘Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition - a practical guide.’ When he started the Intensive care Unit at Flinders Medical Centre in 1976, he set up a computer based system and numerous publications followed. Professor Phillips was also an expert in plant poisons.

Despite his busy schedules, Professor Phillips made significant contributions to the development of the profession. He was elected to the Board of Faculty of Anaesthetists, RACS in 1985 and Council of Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) in 1992. During that period he had held different positions including Chairman of the Intensive Care Education Committee, Maintenance of Standards Officer and Chair of the General Examinations Committee. As the Maintenance of Standards Officer, he was instrumental in developing and implementing the ANZCA Maintenance of Professional Standards (MOPS) Program, our CME / CPD equivalent from 1990 to 2000. He was the President of ANZCA from 1996 to 1998. After retirement from ANZCA Council, he was appointed the inaugural Director of Professional Affairs for ANZCA in 1999, and remained in this capacity until 2009. He was awarded the ANZCA Robert Orton Medal in 2005 for his contributions to anaesthesia. 

Apart from anaesthesia, Professor Phillips also contributed to the development of the whole medical profession. He had been a member of the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges, Chairman of the Workforce and Restructuring Committee, member of the Medical Training Review Panel and the Australian Medical Workforce Advisory Committee since its inception in 1995. He was widely respected in the Australian medical profession or the Government for his integrity and knowledge, and awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in 2005 for all these contributions to medical profession.

Prof Phillips had made substantial contributions to anaesthesia training in Hong Kong. In his capacity as ANZCA President, Professor Phillips strengthened the relationship between ANZCA and our College. In March 1997, Prof Phillips led the ANZCA Hospital Inspection Team to Hong Kong to accredit hospitals in Hong Kong for the ANZCA training. I was the College President then. Officers of the two Colleges met officially to discuss matters of mutual interest, as well as collaboration in supporting the Hong Kong training system. Our College was young then, and would depend heavily on the ANZCA expertise to consolidate our own training and examination systems. He was generous in providing assistance and support when our College established our Fellowship examinations. On the other hand, he was instrumental in ensuring smooth running of the ANZCA training programme in Hong Kong. In early nineties, there was the discussion that ANZCA trainees had to spend one year working in Australia before they can obtain the ANZCA Fellowship. With the support from Prof Phillips and others, this requirement was eventually lifted. My experience working with him was positive and pleasant. He was a charming person, open-minded, always willing to listen to our needs and to open up their arms to help or offer alternative solutions. That was the reason why he was so respected in the medical profession in Australia.

Prof Phillips came again in May the same year as External Examiner for Chinese University of Hong Kong, and delivered a talk at the Scientific Meeting after the College AGM entitled “Trauma: the role of anaesthetists”. In recognition of his contributions, he was awarded the Honorary Fellowship of our College. Prof Phillips came in December 1997 to receive his Honorary Fellowship, and delivered an oration on “Micro-organisms and Anaesthetists –a Continuing Challenge” after receiving the Fellowship.   

Prof Phillips passed away on 25th July 2016 at the age of 79 after fighting against motor neuron disease for a long time. While he had made numerous contributions in Australia and PNG, his contributions to anaesthesia in Hong Kong will be remembered for long.

Dr. Chi-tim Hung
Past President of the HKCA