|What can I say after 34 years in General Practice in Portrush? It is true I could write a book but I don’t think it would ever be permitted to be published.
First I would like to thank Allen and Andrea for organising tonight and I thank everyone who has been able to attend. I know there are people who are unable to be here tonight.
When I arrived in Portrush 34 years ago on Monday 2nd June 1980 little did I think that I would be here for the next 34 years. I arrived young, long blond hair and in a blue sports car and now I leave somewhat older, short blond hair but I still have the sports car even though it is red.
I was a trainee in Ballymoney with Dr Robbie Barr before being appointed as a single handed practitioner in Portrush. He was a great help to me in my first year in practice. It was all a little daunting.
I was fortunate my guardian angel was looking over me as they sent me Mrs Beth Graham who was already running the practice for Dr McGavock my predecessor
She was my right arm and without her I don’t think that I would have survived in single handed practice
We were a small happy multidisciplinary team- Beth Yvonne Gibson the Health Visitor, Kathryn Glasgow the District Nurse and myself. I will note at this time that the first baby born in the practice was my niece Claire who is now an anaesthetist, mother of Emily –Rose and expecting a new baby in November.
After 3 years we added a Practice Nurse to our team –Kaye McLaughlin/Bailie/Beggs arrived. Life was busy but happy. The treatment room was behind the reception area and opened into the surgery and on one occasion we attempted to wax our legs melting the wax in the sterilizer. Not something to be repeated or recommended. All scripts were hand written as there were no computers and had to be recorded in the patients’ notes. Local chemists were very supportive but I still have no idea what was in the “ BLACK BOTTLE” the valadins margiodons co codamalls and the pink pills!!
I worked a 1 in 3 rota with Dr Gardiner and Dr Hill. For 6 weeks in the spring and autumn we covered each other so each practice shut for 2 weeks and the other 2 practices looked after their patients who were redirected to the practice on call .Life has certainly changed – I can’t see that happening now! Summers were very busy with temporary residents and no holidays were taken then.
In 1985 Dr Bailie replaced Dr Hill and the 3 of us joined to build Portrush Medical Centre—designed by Mr Noel Campbell my sister in law Linda‘s father. We remained single handed until 1989 when we joined to form Portrush Medical Centre Practice and this enabled us to take on a 4th partner. This meant we could pursue outside interests and I started working in Coleraine later Causeway in the Genito Urinary Medicine clinic 2 sessions a week.
I then was elected a member of the Local Medical Committee and then the General Practitioners Committee of BMA where I represented the interests of General Practice in the Causeway area. I was elected onto the GP forum in Causeway Trust and was chairman sitting on the Senior Management Team. In this role I represented General Practice on numerous committees.
We embraced every change in practice and became a fund-holding practice. This had a lot of benefits for our patients and enabled us to expand our premises and supply the best treatment we could source for our patients.
With the loss of fund-holding and the introduction of the new contract Beth who was our Practice Manager retired and Allen joined our big team (how we had grown) I think that the fact that we have only had 2 practice managers in 34 years is a pretty good record
The partnership has not always run smoothly but we have always managed to come through Stephen Michael and I have come a long way from 3 single handed practices! We have had a good partnership and along with Michael McCartney we have weathered the storms Thank you my partners for putting up with me. I know I can be difficult . I am delighted to see a new younger *(except for Stephen) vibrant partnership emerging with Dr McKergan and Dr Murray joining and I wish you all as much happiness and fulfilment as I have had. I know you will have as much hard work but the face of General Practice is continually changing and my only words of advice are to accept what you are given and work the system. Remember to keep one step ahead of the game and with Dr Murray sitting on LMC this will be possible
I now look round at our staff past and present (lovingly referred to as the slaves) their own term. I know that there are some no longer with us and I remember them tonight. I have been very fortunate to work with such a committed, hardworking and fun loving team as our away weekends show. GPs remember you are only as good as the staff who works beside you. Thank you Allen Andrea and staff. There are a lot of members of the primary care multidisciplinary team. We have been fortunate with our District Nurses, Podiatrists, Health Visitors, Physiotherapists and Addiction counsellor all based in the medical centre. This team needs to be preserved to supply an adequate service for all our patients’ Thank you multidisciplinary team and thank you to all the staff in Causeway Hospital who support us and our patients. We hope that you will be around for a long time.
Thank you to the care taker and cleaning staff past and present as without you we would be unable to function safely
That brings me to the core of our practice our reason d’etre -- our patients. We were one of the first practices with a patient participation group which has been very active in the past. I would like to thank all the patients of Portrush Medical Centre I have been privileged to be part of their lives in good and bad times and they have supported me at times as well. Thank you patient.
Lastly I would like to thank my family for all their love and support. My late Dad for keeping my feet firmly on the ground; my Mum for answering the phone, cooking the occasional meal and just being there. My brothers for their words of advice and their listening ears.
Thank you for the golf clubs I would like to hope that they will improve my golf but only time will tell. Thank you so much everyone
I wish Portrush Medical Centre Practice and those that work there a long and prosperous existence and now as a patient I have an added interest.