Dr Norman Imlah, a prominent Birmingham doctor who dedicated his life to improving provisions for mental health patients and drug addicts, has died, aged 85, in Selly Oak Hospital, after heart and kidney complaints.
Among Dr Imlah’s many accolades was being named in a list of 100 famous Brummies for being a leading authority on drug addiction.
In 1989, readers of the sister paper of the Birmingham Post, the Mail, took part in a poll to nominate people for a roll of honour. Dr Imlah was selected alongside the city’s most recognisable citizens.
Son Peter Imlah said his father had many hobbies outside of his profession, including watching football, genealogy and ornithology, and had been “extremely proud” to be chosen among the popular Brummies for his contribution to the city. The 45-year-old is one of Dr Imlah’s five children, 15 grand-children and 17 great grand-children.
He said: “Dad will be a huge loss to the family and greatly missed by all - a man of huge integrity who enriched our lives with his love, wisdom, good sense of humour and his generosity.”
Dr Imlah’s family came from Glenlivet in Scotland and he lived in Aberdeen before moving to Birmingham to become a medical director at the now-closed All Saints Hospital in Winson Green. While working there he became well-known for his pioneering work with mental health patients.
In 1968, Dr Imlah conducted the first trials on a drug called Modecate, an injection patients took less frequently than oral medication, giving them greater independence.
He also created day-care facilities to improve rehabilitation of patients into the wider community. One of the institutions he founded was mental health charity Birmingham Industrial Therapy Association (BITA).
Present chairman Erica Barnet described her colleague of 12 years as a “remarkable” man.
She said: “Directors, staff and service-users are very saddened to learn of the death of Dr Imlah. As one of its founder members, and director and chairman for over 45 years, he was instrumental in developing rehabilitation. He set up ITA in All Saints Hospital as a small unit and it’s a thriving rehabilitation charity. It’s been a privilege to work with Dr Imlah. He was a man of great vision and a pioneer in his field. BITA will remain a lasting legacy.”
Birmingham historian Carl Chinn paid tribute to the doctor, saying: “I remember how he was very well-regarded in his field. I was impressed to hear of the great works he had been involved with to the benefit of hundreds in Birmingham and his death is a sad loss.”
Dr Imlah’s funeral will be held on Monday, April 27, at Bournville Parish Church, Sycamore Road, Bournville, at 1.30pm.