Sir Allen Daley (1887-1969)

The backstage man
By Virginia Smith

Sir (William) Allen Daley was born in Bottle, Lancashire in 1887. His father William Daley was the medical officer of health in Bootle. Daley was educated at Merchant Taylors' School in Crosby, and later at the University of Liverpool where he graduated with a BSc in chemistry in 1906. In 1910 he completed his medical training with a distinction in Medicine. In 1911 he completed a diploma in public health and a year later qualified as a doctor.

During his traning he became the resident medical officer at the London Fever Hospital. In the same year his father drowned in a yachting accident. Daley was recalled to Bootle to succeed him as medical officer of health at the tender age of 24. For the next 41 years Daley held posts of increasing responsibility and importance in the field of preventive medicine. In 1928 Daley was appointed to serve on a departmental committee at the Ministry of Health with the special responsibility of recruiting and training midwives.

In 1929 he was appointed a principal medical officer of the London County Council and in 1938 he became deputy to Frederick Menzies. In 1939, the hospitals of the Metropolitan Asylums Board and the Metropolitan Boards of Guardians were integrated into a single service by the London County Council. Daley chaired many departmental committees dealing with such diverse subjects as pathological services, hospital standards and staffing, the district medical service, the ambulance service, and the tuberculosis scheme. He was a master of the committee method – well informed, affable and urbane.

In 1939 Daley succeeded Menzies as county medical officer. In the same year he was elected a Fellow at the Royal College of Physicians. During the Second World War he had the difficult task of guiding the hospital service during a time when it acquired a reputation of never refusing a casualty a bed, though many buildings were badly damaged. His work was recognized by a knighthood in 1944 and, in 1947, by an honorary physicianship to King George VI. In 1943 he published with Reginald Coleman a paper entitled ‘The development of the hospital services with particular reference to the municipal hospital system of London’, in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The National Health Service Act of 1946 led to another period of great activity where he was responsible for transferring the management of healthcare provision from the London County Council to the newly formed regional hospital boards.

Daley was president of the Central Council for Health Education, having been a founder member and the author of a paper in the 1920s, which played a considerable part in the thinking which led to the formation of the council. In 1927 he published Population Education in Public Health (with Hester Viney) and an interview with him on the topic of health education was published in the Health Education Journal. He was president of the National Association for Maternal and Child Welfare. He also held many other appointments until retirement age. He died on holiday in 1969.

This page was added by Lisa Rigg on 15/09/2009.

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