Game Set and Match to Cyril Taylor
by David Knopov
“Both as a medical student, and later as a doctor, it had always seemed entirely appropriate for me to be part of the broader political struggle to change the unequal society for one in which every citizen would have an equal opportunity for education, the development of their talents, and the right to work for their own benefit and that of society“
Cyril Taylor 1986
Cyril was a Labour Councillor for Granby Ward from 1964 -1980, as well as Chair of the Social Services Committee. His patients included Adrian Henri and Alexei Sayle.
Game, Set and Match For Cyril Taylor.
SEAMOS AMABLES CON LOS PACIENTES
smiles the blue-faced, smiling Cuban nurse
from the blue poster on the wall.
We wait in the hall. Litany of familiar names,
familiar rooms. We wait to hear ours.
First you played singles, then
mixed doubles, then trained a squad,
playing on new courts.
Hard-fought games against
pain, disease, ignorance.
Sometimes a win in straight sets,
sometimes a struggle to hold the service.
The grim finals against the unbeatable opponent.
Now you will retire,
play the desperate game only for pleasure,
watching the young players
in the Autumn park.
This poem from the loyal fans
who have cheered you over the years
as you leap the net to a new beginning.
Guardian Obituary by Ann Clwyd
Dr Cyril Taylor, who has died aged 79, was a general practitioner in Liverpool who pioneered the concept of NHS health centres to serve the widest interests of local people. Always committed to democratic health provision, he was a member of a delegation of socialist doctors who, in 1946, met Nye Bevan, then preparing to establish the National Health Service, to urge him to resist the demands of the medical establishment. Cyril was brought up in a Jewish family at New Brighton, on the Wirral; they had changed their name from Zadesky to reflect his father’s profession. As a boy, he was active in the Jewish Youth Movement but moved from zionism towards socialism in his late teens, and, as a sixth former at Wallasey grammar school, joined the Communist party. He left in disillusion after the Hungarian uprising of 1956.
Cyril studied medicine at Liverpool University, where he was famous for eating sandwiches during dissection lectures. He graduated in 1943, having worked as a student treating survivors of Dunkirk at the Alderhey medical receiving centre. A job at Walton hospital, Liverpool, was followed by national service, during which he became major in charge of the British hospital in Khartoum. In 1949, Cyril went to work as medical officer with the Liverpool Shipping Federation but was sacked because of his politics. So, in 1950, he set up shop at his house in Liverpool, where he practised, singlehandedly, as a GP. Cyril put his belief in equal opportunities into action, not only at his surgery but by becoming a Labour councillor for Liverpool’s Granby ward from 1965-80, and chair of the social services committee between 1970-80. He was quick to recognise the links between health and inequalities, and became involved in issues such as housing and rent tribunals, housing cooperatives, fluoridation, facilities for people with disabilities, and the setting up of the Liverpool association for the disabled. He believed strongly in cooperation between social services and health, something that primary care groups are trying to achieve today. In 1977, Cyril moved into his pride and joy, the Princes Park health centre, in Toxteth. There, he created what could be called “the spirit of Princes Park’; where health fairs, writers ‘workshops, poetry workshops, embroidery groups and plays, as well as a vast number of health projects, flourished.
In 1977, he was appointed to a royal commission on the NHS, which reported in 1979. During that decade, he helped create GP attachments for medical students, believing it was vital to give them experience in the real world of medicine.
Last year, Cyril was awarded the prestigious Duncan Medal, of the Liverpool University department of sociology, and, in his acceptance address, remembered his early life as a GP. At one Practice, the surgery was drawn across the living room, with his family on one side and him on the other; another was located in a cellar, where the consulting room was separated from the waiting room by a plywood sheet.
Blessed with a wry sense of humour, Cyril recognised the need for a joke alongside the stethoscope and prescription pad He kept a little book of patients quotes, including someone who confessed to “having a cyst on my aviaries” and another who declared “me tart’s got TB and I’ve got to be scraped”.
For Cyril, politics and medicine were the stuff of life, and his kindness and generosity were expressed in the unstinting time he gave to his patients, many of whom became his friends.
He is survived by a son and daughter, his wife Pat, his partner Sylvia, with whom he lived for 12 years, and her three daughters.