Dr John Silver first worked for Sir Ludwig Guttmann at Stoke Mandeville in 1956 and then succeeded him as the director of the Spinal Injuries Centre.

An interview with Dr Silver

June 2011

Guttmann favoured physiotherapy over occupational therapy and the latter service was very under resourced at Stoke Mandeville. This was largely his personal belief; other hospitals took Occupational Therapy a lot more seriously. Part of the problem was what was on offer: basketry! If you give people useful things to do then they will enjoy it. When I subsequently became director I introduced the first computer room as part of OT and it was extremely popular.

Essentially if they went anywhere else for care, the spinal injuries patients died. He exerted a total, obsessive control over all aspects of care at the hospital, whether it was him coming round in the middle of the night to make sure that the nurses had turned patients, or checking on the quality of the cleaners’ work or that of the food served on the wards. Everything was his responsibility. This was such an enormous contrast with consultants in other hospitals.

Download a pdf of Dr John Silver's full interview here