The fact that a department at the General Hospital, Jersey, is named after Harvey Besterman speaks volumes about the man and the enormous contribution he made there. It will not only be his name over the door, however, which will remind staff of the dynamism of Harvey Besterman, who with boundless energy touched and enriched all of our lives.
Born in London in 1946, the son of a cardiologist, Edwin Besterman, Harvey studied medicine at St Mary’s Hospital. Before qualifying he spent a year at the MRC tropical research unit in Kingston, Jamaica, carrying out research on paediatric nutrition and the metabolism of malnourished infants.
He graduated in 1972, gaining the Sir William Broadbent cardiology prize at St Mary’s Hospital, and was appointed house physician in medicine to Sir Stanley Peart. Experience in general and chest medicine followed at the Whittington Hospital with Elio Montuschi [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.406] before he was appointed senior house officer at the Hammersmith Hospital where his interest in endocrinology and diabetes began. An active author he wrote 26 publications on gut hormones in digestive diseases which provided the basis for his MD thesis. By way of diversion he was also awarded a language scholarship by the Royal College of Physicians at this time. Posts followed as registrar in medicine at the Royal Free Hospital and then as senior registrar to Michael Besser and John Wass at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
It was in 1984 that Harvey Besterman was appointed as general physician in endocrinology at the General Hospital, Jersey. Before long he was making a very substantial contribution to the department of medicine and his treatment of patients over the following thirteen years was of great significance. Harvey cared intensely about his patients and in countless ways worked tirelessly on their behalf. He founded the Jersey branch of the British Diabetic Association. His vision led to the establishment of the Jersey diabetes centre and when it was opened by Sir Harry Secombe in January 1991 it was the realization of years of planning, fund-raising and sometimes fighting to achieve his goal. Harvey was not a distant figurehead president of the Jersey Diabetic Association, but instead involved himself at every level. He helped at fund-raising activities, opening his home for garden parties and on one occasion did a parachute jump to raise money. He took children with diabetes on holidays and camps. With his wife Jill, he looked after them and their brothers and sisters for weekends so that their parents could have a break and the children could befriend and learn from each other.
The same dedication that Harvey applied to his clinical work was also directed to the cause of developing a programme of postgraduate education for hospital staff and general practitioners and he was a constant source of encouragement to medical colleagues to keep up with postgraduate medical education despite their increasingly busy clinical work loads.
The limited recreation time he allowed himself was characteristically spent in frenzied activity; he was a qualified pilot and a sub-aqua diver which in turn led to his involvement with the hyperbaric chamber and the management of decompression sickness! In quiet moments he found relaxation with photography and gardening. A wonderful eccentricity for a senior consultant physician was Harvey’s love of the theatrical, much in evidence at Christmas and in hospital revues. This joyous facet of his persona he has bequeathed to this talented only daughter Kirsty.
W R Ginks