Yates was professor of emergency medicine at the University of Manchester and honorary consultant to Hope Hospital Salford. He had gained his medical education at Cambridge and St. Thomas's, qualifying in 1967. He took the MChOrth at Liverpool in 1975 and was a member of the scientific staff of the North West Injury Research Centre. Yates gained his FRCS (Eng) in 1972 and FRCP in 1998. He was a key figure in the development of accident and emergency medicine in the Royal Colleges, and was dean of the Faculty of Accident and Emergency Medicine for its first five years.