I don’t mind admitting that I feel a particular connection to the Western General Hospital. I’m one of a number of people who were born in the maternity unit before it closed in 1992. It has been my local hospital for most of life. And now, I’m one of a select group who not only were born there but also work there.
As the director of the hospital I also have the privilege of having a wonderful view from my office in Turner House that looks from onto the Clock Tower building – and onto the ward where I arrived, back in 1971 when Clive Dunn’s “Grandad” was number one in the charts and a litre of petrol cost just 8p!
As part of the 150th anniversary celebrations a call went out to staff from across the site to see who would reveal themselves as staff members who can claim this special heritage.
Strangely enough I don’t remember too much about my birth. I’m told that the consultant who delivered me was Ron Clark. My mother remembers little of her stay other than the relief of being able to stay in hospital for four days. This was possibly mostly down to being a welcome respite from caring for my two siblings while the family house was experiencing the dust, lack of central heating and burst pipes associated with the DIY endeavours of my father in the middle of an Edinburgh winter. She remembers a young student midwife offering overly cheerful advice about not to push – which apparently wasn’t received well. She does recall the thoroughness of the domestic member of the ward team mopping under the bed who offering warm congratulations on the arrival of “the wee man”.
The strength of the human touch and personal contact is still evident today at the Western. One of the greatest pleasures of my job is that I am often sent letters and emails from grateful patients and relatives wanting to pass on their thanks for their experience at the Western. The care and compassion from the whole team – not just the consultant but the individual acts of compassion from the porter, the secretary and the member of the domestic team is what is noticed and often what makes a difficult time more bearable.