Consulting Gynaecologist, Bradford Infirmary, and Consulting Surgeon, Bradford Chlidren’s Hosiptal

We regret to record the death, on December 7th, of Dr.  Andrea; C. F. Rabagliati, after a long and distinguished career. He was born in Edinburgh in 1845. His father, an officer in the Italian Army, was engaged in the earliest insurrection against the Austrian domination,  and on the failure of that attempt fled to Scotland. He stayed for some time at the manse in Kelso, and then went to Abbotsford, reading Italian with Sir Walter Scott. Subsequently he settled in Edinburgh and married a Highland lady 

Andrea Rabagliati was educated at the Royal High School, after which he stayed for two years with an uncle in British Guiana, returning in 1862 to study medicine at Edinburgh University and graduating M.B. in 1869.  ln 1872 he proceeded M.D. with first-class honours, and won the gold medal for a thesis on relapsing fever. In 1890 he obtained the fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. After graduating Dr. Rabagliati became assistant to the late Dr. Leeson, medical officer to the Bradford Workhouse. He was appointed assistant medical officer to the workhouse and in 1870 became house-surgeon to the Bradford Infirmary, a post which he held for two years. In 1872 he began private practice, speedily coming to the front rank of Bradford medical men. In 1877 he was appointed surgeon to the Bradford Infirmary, assistant surgeon to the Eye and Ear Hospital, and medical officer to the Bradford Fever Hospital. In 1882 a small children’s hospital, originally with only twelve beds for incurables, was opened in Hanover Square by private enterprise to supplement the provision for children in the Bradford Infirmary, but encountered considerable opposition. – Dr.  Rabagliati strongly sympathized with the undertaking, and in conjunction with D. Burnie and the late Dr. Harry Meade, gave it all the help in his power. In 1887 the hospital moved to larger premises in Springfield Place, and a scheme was set on foot to build a large and properly equipped children’s hospital. The present institution, which has been considerably expanded, was opened in 1890, and Dr. Rabagliati was appointed consulting surgeon.

Dr. Rabagliati was instrumental, with the untiring help of his wife, in establishing St. Catherine’s Home for Cancer, and when this was opened he was appointed consulting surgeon. He was also consulting surgeon to the Bingley Hospital, senior physician to the Actors’ Association, London, and to the Music Hall Artistes’ Association,  London, and consulting gynaecologist to the Bradford Royal Infirmary. Although he held so many surgical appointments, his bias was always towards medical practice, which interested him greatly, and more and more he was consulted in medical cases, especially with reference to diet. He published numerous hooks on this subject, and built up a large consulting practice on dietetic lines: he was often urged lo give up all general practice and confine himself to consulting work. That he did not definitely take this step was thought by many to be a mistake, but he held strong views about the responsibility of medical practice and believed that he could do more good by the general care and guidance of patients whose cases were well known to him than by occasional specialist advice. However, in spite of himself, his consulting work rapidly increased; he had also a heavy load of correspondence, and so the general practice side of his work was virtually squeezed out, He continued in his profession without intermission, taking but few holidays, from 1872 until his 87th birth-day in May, 1930, when he was first taken ill. After a week or two he resumed his work, which he continued until the end of July, when the state of his health forced him to abandon practice, to his bitter disappointment. 

Dr. Rabagliati tool: a great interest in the work of the British Medical Association. He was a member of the council of the Yorkshire Branch from 1888 to 1892, president of the Branch 1893-94, and vice-president from 1895 to 1915.

Dr Halliday Sullivan writes: In his early professional life Dr. Rabagliati realized that many chronic, ailments arise from excess of food products, which stagnate in the lymphatic system. To overcome this condition he placed his patients on a starvation dict. The value of that treatment in suitable cases is now recognized, but when Dr. Rabagliati acted on his conviction it entailed the loss of a large practice. This was gradually rebuilt on lines in which he believed to the end. His books did not reach a large circle of readers. The style in which they were written belonged to an earlier period, and their author was fond of coining new words based on Greek roots, which puzzled the non-classical reader. When more is known about the role of the lymphatic system in the causation of disease A. C. F. Rabagliati will rank as a pioneer.

From the British Medical Journal December 20th 1930