Dear BCCA Member
It is with very great sadness that we have been informed of the sudden and unexpected death of David Cunningham last weekend. He died peacefully at home. As many of you will know, David was a huge supporter and contributor in every possible way to the congenital component of the Central Cardiac Audit Database, now the National Congenital Heart Disease Audit, from the time of its inception in 2000 working with John Gibbs, right through and beyond his retirement from NICOR just 8 months ago.
David, with a physics PhD, was first 'enticed/encouraged' to come to The Heart Hospital in London from Glasgow by Edward Rowland (then a Fellow in electrophysiology at the Hammersmith) in the late 1980s, given their shared interest in electrophysiology. David also had an interest and expertise in early computing and managing large data. In London he linked up with Tony Rickards, Raphael Balcon and in particular John Gibbs for congenital cardiology, to help set up CCAD in the late 1990s with the backing of BCS, BPCA (now BCCA) and SCTS. Although supporting all the CCAD Audits, he had a special interest in congenital cardiology and cardiac rhythm disorders. He was attracted by the complexity of CHD (‘adult data was child’s play in comparison to congenital’), whilst his knowledge of the anatomy of congenital malformations and procedures was largely self-taught. He became the CCAD Technical Director and Senior Strategist, roles he continued with the transfer of the six CCAD audits to NICOR away from the NHS Information centre in 2011.
David played a key role in developing and populating the pioneering congenital public portal in 2007, as well as working with the Clinical Operational Research Unit to create the PRAiS risk adjustment model now used by all centres for near real time quality assurance. Without his tireless work and ‘open all hours’ receptiveness to whatever was required, along with his in depth understanding of congenital cardiology and wizardry with our data, CCAD congenital would not have got off the ground back in 2000-2002, let alone become the exemplar of such national audits across the world that it became over the following decade, and in many ways still is. And all with inimitable humour and conviviality, granting the occasional Cunningham moments to work through! Over the years David supported many if not all the congenital cardiac audits in some form or other, either in the early computing days or with constructive advice on data cleaning, validation and statistical analysis. Such was his enthusiasm and mastery of the CHD data that any briefly mentioned idea over the phone would result in the extracted data to test this out, complete with graphical display, arriving within a matter of hours (often close to midnight!). This also meant he could react to demands for instant data by the likes of NHSE during the forever review processes our speciality has endured. His support and input into other NICOR Audits, especially Cardiac Rhythm Management was also invaluable. He will be sorely missed.
He was a keen sportsman and played golf up to relatively recently as well as being a passionate arm chair spectator of almost any sport you can mention in his later years. He was supported throughout this time by his wife Morag who similarly worked at NICOR, and is also survived by their two children.
David's funeral arrangements as follows: Saturday December 16th 2017
- 10.15am Short service at South Lanarkshire Crematorium, Blantyre
- 12noon Celebration of Life at Freeland Church, Bridge of Weir
- 1pm Refreshments at Ranfurly Castle Golf Club, Bridge of Weir
Morag, Rebecca and Andrew would be pleased to see you at any or all parts of the day.
Dr Rodney Franklin MD FRCP FRCPCH
Clinical Lead NICOR National Congenital Heart Disease Audit
Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist
Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust