I arrived at Café 1505 part of Surgeons Hall complex on Nicholson Street. I was soon joined by Iain MacIntyre who had, quite by chance, met Vaughan Ruckley, formerly a surgeon at the Western who had given Iain his first job as a house surgeon there in 1968 – it’s a small world!
Iain told me that the house jobs at the Western were very popular and he felt very lucky to have got one. The Western had reputation for innovation, and was a friendly hospital where all the staff knew each other and there was a great sense of team spirit. The house surgeons at that time staffed the small casualty department in the Paderewski Building, which made them feel like real doctors. Iain remembers Charles Falconer the senior surgeon as a big man with very gentle hands who was an excellent technical surgeon. ‘Later on Charles Falconer asked me to operate on him’ Iain recalls. ‘I was very flattered, quite nervous, but relieved when all went well.’
Although modest about his own contribution Iain was quick to talk about the achievement of others. Bill Small, a surgeon who had early on recognised the huge negative health impact of cigarette smoking and ran a smoking cessation clinic. Norman Dott – featured in one of the other posts and his imaginative new developments in neurological surgery using his initial training as an engineer to design new instruments and a domed operating theatre which made sure there were never any shadows cast on the patient. Anne Ferguson was another – she was a clinical researcher and expert in inflammatory bowel disease, making a significant contribution to the reputation of the Western as a place for innovation. Iain also mentioned Selby Tulloch a specialist in urology who identified as his greatest achievement the stopping the clock in the bell tower from chiming every hour through the night, improving significantly the sleeping pattern of Western patients. Many more disciplines and names followed and I am sure we will return to many of these as this anniversary blogsite develops.
Innovation is obviously strongly associated with the Western and so is team work. Iain was not the first to mention this and I am sure also won’t be the last. The team building not only happened in departments. It also developed through the fierce loyalty that Iain described his wife, an ex-nurse at the Western, has towards the Western General Nurses Badge.
I am sure that some of the team spirit was also built as a result of the regular revues organised at the social centre at the Western. The 1966 edition can be listende to here.