Apr 052012

By Dr Sue Galloway.

I am sorry that it has not been possible to write to all of you individually with news of my retirement from the Practice, but I hope that you will forgive me.

I have been very touched by the kind messages, cards and gifts that have been arriving over the last couple of weeks, and I shall be acknowledging these personally. I am also delighted that we have raised a significant sum for the Fairmile Marie Curie Centre, which provides such wonderful support for both our patients and our Nursing and Medical teams.

I joined the Practice in 1986, when Dr Herbert Gold was Senior Partner, and our Medical team was the same for the next 10 years, with Drs Denison, Brown, Illingworth, Anderson, McCall Smith and myself. Since then the names have changed but the aim of the Practice has been the same, namely to offer our patients the highest standard of GP care with the help of our nursing colleagues and administrative team.

While NHS General Practice has seen two major reorganisations, in 1992 and 2004, the immediate needs of our patients have not changed. But GPs are now also responsible for delivering far more preventive care as well as the routine care for chronic conditions such as Asthma and COPD, Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease and Mental health, which was previously provided by the hospital services. This has required constant innovation and has greatly extended the roles of our Doctors and Practice and District Nursing colleagues.

We started to computerise our patients’ medical records and prescriptions in 1990. By 2006 we were in a position to become ‘paperlite’ with all our patients’ previous notes summarised electronically, a huge project for the medical staff and a succession of medical student assistants who ploughed through approximately 11,000 files. We are now beginning to make all hospital outpatient referrals, and receive discharge summaries, hospital clinic letters and test results electronically, requiring further refinement of our computer systems and our own IT skills. As well as the support of our Nursing teams we have a magnificent admin team led by our Business Manager, Brenda Mair and her deputy, Rob Easton and IT lead Karen McDonald.

We have twice been awarded the Royal College of GPs’ Quality Practice Award, meeting strict criteria for performance in clinical, administrative and governance areas of General Practice. I was closely involved with the preparation of both applications, the first mainly a paper exercise in 2002, and the re-application in 2008 almost exclusively electronic.

The Practice move from premises in Bruntsfield Terrace to our purpose-built Health Centre in 1980 was mainly due to the vision of Dr David Illingworth, former Senior Partner. This project accommodated Practice-attached District Nurses, Health Visitors and Social workers, and some Health Board staff too. By 2000, the Health Centre was becoming tired and cramped and the Practice bought the premises from the Health Board and undertook a complete refurbishment programme, resulting in our present light and pleasant working environment for patients and staff.

Over the years we have faced many new challenges, both organisational & clinical, including most recently preparations for the H1N1 epidemic in 2010, and the need for services to permit the increasing numbers of frail elderly people to remain ‘cared for’ in their own homes, since the closure of many acute and long-stay NHS hospital beds.

The Scottish Government has announced that the GP ‘Contract’, the terms and conditions under which we work as self-employed contractors to the NHS, will gradually be adjusted to better address the health needs of the Scottish people, and to reflect a determination to preserve an NHS which is free at the point of access in contrast to some current changes in other parts of the UK. The introduction of the Smoking Ban in Public Places by the Scottish Health department was ground breaking, and there is also the political will to reduce the damaging effects on Public Health of both excess alcohol use and also poverty and unemployment.

It has been a great privilege to work at Bruntsfield Medical Practice for the last 26 years. I have been so lucky to have work that I have loved and such great colleagues and patients. I am confident that the Practice will continue to provide the same high standard of care in the hands of my remaining partners, Drs Cash, Penny, Walls, Boyd, Calvert, Uytman and my successor, Dr Susie Carswell. Please let them know your views on the further development of the Practice via the Comments Book in the foyer, in writing, or via the practice website.