Argyll & Clyde

(Later to become the Clyde Sector of the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board)

ROYAL ALEXANDRA INFIRMARY AND HAWKHEAD HOSPITAL, PAISLEY

In 1963, Arthur W Mollison was appointed as the first Consultant Biochemist to the Renfrewshire Hospitals.

Mollison had graduated BSc in Pharmacy in Glasgow in 1936. He had been an Assistant Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Robert Gordon's Technical College in Aberdeen (1938 to 39), Chief Pharmacist at Law Hospital, Lanarkshire (1939 to 45) and then returned to Glasgow University to study medicine, graduating in 1950. He had been a Registrar at Stobhill General Hospital, Glasgow, and was appointed as Senior Hospital Medical Officer at Woodend Hospital, Aberdeen in 1957. He returned to Glasgow due to illness and, on recovery, was appointed as Senior Hospital Medical Officer in the Biochemistry Department at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. (ref: 8,13,74,78)

Initially Mollison divided his week between the Royal Alexandra Infirmary in Paisley (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) and the Gateside Hospital in Greenock and a hospital in Port Glasgow (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Mollison visited daily all patients on intravenous fluids and wrote their fluid prescriptions.

The accommodation in the Royal Alexandra Infirmary was a small fifteen foot square room, little bigger than a cupboard, built on top of the Mortuary/Post Mortem Room and was malodourous at times. The main equipment at the time was an EEL flame photometer, EEL chloride meter and a Hilger "Spekker" with 8 filters covering the range 450 to 750 nm. Enzymes (mainly alkaline phosphatase by King Armstrong and amylase by Wohlgemuth's starch digestion method) were incubated in a 37 degree water bath. There was a pot over an open flame for boiling glucose reactions (Folin and Wu) in the appropriate constricted glass tubes, refluxing carbon tetrachloride extracts for 17-keto and 17-hydroxy steroids and for evaporating extracts for cholesterol. There was also a test room in the main hospital used for paper electrophoresis of proteins and lipids.

More space was acquired when the Bacteriology Department moved to the Paisley Infectious Diseases Hospital in Hawkhead Road, Paisley. (This was two to three miles from the Royal Alexandra Infirmary and it was latter renamed Hawkhead Hospital when the mental hospital in Crookston Road was renamed from Hawkhead to Leverndale Hospital.) A Van Slyke apparatus was acquired for carbon dioxide assays and a Unicam SP600. This latter instrument allowed an expansion and improvement of the test repertoire; these improvements included bilirubin by direct reading of an acetone extract (for paediatric specimens) and amylase by the Street Close method. (ref: 35,72)

In 1963, Mollison persuaded the Board to convert a disused laundry at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Hawkhead Road, Paisley, into a laboratory and to provide some modern equipment, including, in 1964, a Technicon AAI AutoAnalyzer. The apparently enormous space in the new laboratory was soon filled. Specimens were delivered by twice daily van service, with emergencies by vans and taxis.

Cathy Hayburn, who had been responsible for cleaning up the buildings in preparation for the new laboratory, remained as the lab domestic until her retiral in April 1992.

Mollison was interested in porphyria and there were several families in Paisley with this condition. He was responsible for planning the biochemistry department of the new Royal Alexandra Hospital, which opened in 1986. He retired Ca. 1981 and died in 1987. (ref: 35,72,78)

In 1970, Ian Leggate was appointed as Senior Biochemist. Leggate had started his career as a technician in the Royal Maternity Hospital, Rottenrow, Glasgow in 1951. He had graduated BSc (Hons) and PhD at Glasgow University in 1964 and 1967 respectively. He had been a Lecturer in Chemical Pathology in Aberdeen from 1967 to 70. He was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist in 1975 and left in 1977 to set up laboratories in each of five hospitals in Kuwait. He was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist at Stobhill General Hospital, Glasgow, in 1979 and retired in 1991. He died in 2015. (ref: 17,35)

Leggate was given the task of improving quality control. This involved changing some of the methods, improving the equipment and developing a computer system. Although the only processor available was an 8k Hewlett Packard HP30 programmable calculator, a comprehensive system was written in-house to take results from the AutoAnalyzer charts using an HP digitiser and magnetic tape cassettes. These were archived by accession number and reports were produced on self-adhesive labels which could be arranged on the mount sheets in the patients' records to give cumulative reporting.

Aileen S Cunningham (later Hunter - 1978), who was appointed in the late 1960s, further developed the computer system, which was replaced by a Ferranti Phoenix system when the department moved into new premises in 1986. She retired in 2007.

Leggate assisted Mollison in his studies of patients with porphyria. He performed quantitative assays on specimens from one patient throughout her pregnancy only to find no changes over the seven month period of the study. However, because he had been to the ward so frequently to collect specimens, the patient thought that he had given her great attention and presented him with a bottle of whisky when the baby was born. (ref: 17,35)

In 1977, Anne M Kelly, who had started her career in Glasgow Victoria Infirmary in 1959 and worked in Glasgow Western Infirmary and Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital (1971 to 77) was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist. She retired in 1997 and became Dr Bell when she married in 1999.

In 1981, Peter Stromberg was appointed as Consultant Biochemist.

Stromberg married Marrion G Anderson who was a Senior Biochemist in that department, having been appointed from the Wellcome Surgical Research Institute, Glasgow, in 1976, and who, in 1981, was the first winner of the John King Award.

Sharon A Gordon, later Russell (nee Hollywood), from Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow, was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1984 and Principal Biochemist in 1990. She retired in 2010

The department moved to the new Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, in 1986.

Colleen M Ross, who was a member of the West of Scotland SpR Rotation and who had worked at Hairmyres and Monklands Hospitals, Lanarkshire, from 2004, was appointed as consultant in 2006.

Andy Kerry was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 2008 and as Consultant Clinical Scientist in 2017.

Neill McConnell was appointed as Consultant Clinical Scientist in 2010. He was lead clinician in Clyde for four years before he retired in March 2017.

Gillian Gray was appointed as a Glasgow Grade A Trainee in 2000, Senior Biochemist at Monklands Hospital, Lanarkshire in 2003 and Principal Biochemist at Inverclyde and Paisley in 2010. She married in 2012 and, as Mrs Hamilton, moved to Randox in Northern Ireland.

Kathryn Kirkpatrick from Wishaw General was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 2013 and as Principal Biochemist at Hairmyres Hospital, Lanarkshire, in 2016.

Iain Jones, who had trained at Southern General Hospital, was appointed as consultant post in 2014 and became the Clinical Lead for Clyde in 2017.

Caroline Millar, who had trained at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, was appointed as consultant post at in 2015.

The Clinical Biochemists in 2016 included Neil McConnell, Consultant, and Principal Scientists Andy Kerry and Laura Russell. Laura trained in Dundee and started at RAH in 2015. Laura replaced Angela Kremmyda who was based at the RAH from early 2013 until late 2014.

In January 2017 Louise Brown became Principal Biochemist. She worked within Antenatal genetic screening at the Queen Elizaneth University Hospital and is being redeployed as this service has centralised in Lothian.

GATESIDE HOSPITAL, GREENOCK AND INVERCLYDE ROYAL HOSPITAL

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Last updated August 2017