The first hospital laboratory in Ayrshire is thought to be one set up in the Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine, when it opened in the 1940s. This incorporated the Public Health Laboratory which had previously been situated in the County Buildings in Ayr. Also in the 1940s, a purpose built laboratory, donated by Grenfield and Kennedy, was opened at Kilmarnock Infirmary. (ref: 60)

At Ballochmyle Hospital, in the south of Ayrshire, there was a multidisciplinary laboratory run by the Consultant Pathologist. Iris Gibson (later Chisholm) worked there from 1946. Ballochmyle was one of the seven new Emergency Medical Services Hospitals built at the start of World War II as a result of the Civil Defence Act. (ref: 60, 151)

Joseph Fitzpatrick was appointed as the first Biochemist in Ayrshire in 1949. He was initially based at the laboratory in Ayrshire Central Hospital, where facilities were minimal, and he had responsibility for the biochemistry done in the Kilmarnock Infirmary laboratory. (ref: 60,74)

Fitzpatrick had trained under James C Eaton and Sidney Lionel Tompsett at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (1948-49). He was an analytical chemist by training.

In 1954 Fitzpatrick moved with the Biochemistry Department to Ballochmyle Hospital where an area service was set up by John Milne, Consultant Pathologist. This became the main Biochemistry Department in Ayrshire until 1982.

Among the biochemists who worked at Ballochmyle in the 1950s were JH Johnstone, who moved to Birmingham and then to Bournemouth, Alan E Crooks, who was appointed as Principal Biochemist at the Vale of Leven Hospital ca. 1960, and Jean Henderson, who moved to the Veterinary Hospital, Glasgow University. (ref: 60)

Katherine M Mackay, from Beverley in Yorkshire (1956 to 60), Dundee Royal Infirmary (1951 to 56) and Glasgow Western Infirmary (1946 to 51), was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1960. She was subsequently appointed as Principal Biochemist and retired in 1989 and died in the late 1990s. (ref: 60)

In 1961 W Harry Auld was appointed as the first Consultant Biochemist in Ayrshire and the Biochemistry Laboratory became a separate Department.

Auld had trained under Alexander Lyall in Aberdeen and had spent two years in other branches of laboratory medicine to give himself a broad base of experience. He had been the Consultant Chemical Pathologist to the Chelsea and Kensington Group of Hospitals from 1956 to 1961.

Fitzpatrick was Principal Biochemist at that time and was later appointed as Top Grade Biochemist. He and Auld formed a harmonious relationship, fulfilling their complementary clinical and analytical roles. Auld found plenty of scope to exercise his clinical interests nurtured by his training in Aberdeen and recalled that, on his arrival, he was charged with the task of preventing surgical patients getting "overloaded" with intravenous fluids. Under Auld's guidance, the service was developed and expanded during the 1960s. The Technicon SMA 6/60, which was installed in 1969, was the first in Scotland and, when it was replaced in 1984, it was the longest serving 6/60 still in existence. (ref: 74)

A policy of rationalisation led to the closure of small laboratories in Ayr and Kilmarnock and Biochemistry was centralised at Ballochmyle in 1972. The accommodation, huts beside the boiler house, was adequate although unpretentious. A small satellite laboratory was set up in the Maternity Unit at Ayrshire Central Hospital. (ref: 60,74)

In the 1950s and 1960s the technical staff simply rotated between laboratory disciplines. Later appointments were made to specific departments. Many left after two to three years for the more attractive salaries offered by I.C.I. and other organisations in the north of the county. Only later, with the introduction of the M.L.S.O. hierarchy and the recession in industry, did a permanent skilled team of over 20 members become established in the Biochemistry Department. (ref: 74)

Janet M Duncan from Glasgow Royal Infirmary was appointed in 1971. Sheila J Taylor became Mrs McDougal in 1974.

John Williamson, Research Assistant at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (1976 to 77), was appointed as Basic Grade Biochemist in 1977, Senior Biochemist in 1981, Principal in 1989 and Consultant Clinical Scientist in 2016. (ref: 60)

Mrs TH Jones was working at Ballochmyle when she joined the ACB in 1982.

D Fraser Davidson, from Glasgow Western Infirmary/Gartnavel General Hospital, was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1980, Principal Biochemist in 1985 and Top Grade in 1997. He retired in 2015 and was elected as a Fellow Member of the ACB in 2016 (ref: 60)

In 1982, fifteen years after the first planning meeting, the Biochemistry Department, along with all other laboratory disciplines, were transferred into the Ayrshire Area Laboratory at the new North Ayrshire District General Hospital. The Technicon SMA 6/60 was replaced by a Technicon SMAC and a CTL computer system was installed. This system was supported by N Wynne Carter and the Department of Biochemical Medicine at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. The hospital was later renamed Crosshouse Hospital. (ref: 60)

In 1986, Joe Fitzpatrick and Harry Auld both retired. Fitpatrick died in 2019. David E Boag, from Law Hospital in Lanarkshire, and Glasgow Royal Infirmary, was appointed as Consultant in 1986 and retired in 2011. Kay Mackay retired in 1989 and died in the late 1990s. Matty Lough, from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, was appointed as second Consultant in 1990 and retired in 2011. (ref: 60,74)

Suzanne MacKenzie, from Edinburgh, and Scott Blackwell, from Glasgow, were appointed as consultants in 2011.

Christopher Pitt was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 2017. He had been a Senior Biochemist in Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham for 14 years, and a part-time Lecturer at Coventry University.

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Last updated October 2019