Crichton Royal - 1940s to the present

Dumfries And Galloway Royal Infirmary

On 1st April 1941 it was agreed that Dr Scott Thomson, who was on the staff of the Dumfries County Council, could be appointed as Honorary Pathologist to the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, "providing that the duties to be undertaken did not prejudice the discharge of his duties as an official of the Council". His stay was brief, as he joined the army the following year. (ref: 61)

In 1947 Dr Robert Rankin, who had trained at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, was appointed as Senior Hospital Medical Officer in Pathology. His work was chiefly in histopathology and post mortem examinations. A small laboratory was established next to the Gynaecology ward and there were two technicians, John Ferguson and Brian Tremble, the latter having transferred from the Crichton Royal Hospital. In 1950 Rankin left to take up an appointment as Consultant Bacteriologist at Stirling Royal Infirmary. (ref: 61)

In 1951 Dr Agnes L Scott from Glasgow Royal Infirmary was appointed as Consultant Pathologist in charge of all disciplines except Bacteriology (for which specimens were sent to the laboratory in the County Buildings). Soon after her appointment, she submitted plans for a new laboratory to the Western Regional Hospital Board and, in the meantime, acquired some makeshift accommodation in a room off the entrance hall to allow biochemical and haematological services to be developed. A chief technician, Archie Jenkins, was appointed. He was well qualified in histological and blood transfusion techniques and his many skills, which included clinical photography, were a great asset in the development of the laboratory services. Bryce Baird, Technician in Biochemistry, was transferred from the Crichton Royal Hospital and the work which he had been performing for the Infirmary was taken over by the new laboratory. (ref: 61)

In 1952 Miss Margaret MS Mackie, from the Western Infirmary, Glasgow (1946 to 1950) and South Shotley Bridge, North West Durham (1950 to 1952), was appointed as Senior Biochemist. She established many new methods and was later appointed as Principal Biochemist. She retired in 1988 and died in 1990. (ref: 61)

In 1954 the Biochemistry Department moved to a larger room at Cresswell Maternity Hospital. Around that time a Senior Hospital Medical Officer with a special interest in Haematology and Blood Transfusion, Dr Pat Marlow Robb, and a Registrar in Pathology, Dr Tom Coyle, were appointed. (ref: 61)

In 1957 the new accommodation for all four disciplines became available. The Bacteriology Department, under Dr Wilfred Godden, moved from the County Buildings. The first Consultant Haematologist was appointed but, as he was found guilty of bigamy, he started a prison sentence instead of taking up his appointment. Dr John Selwyn from University College Hospital, London,was appointed as Consultant Haematologist. He had been attracted to the area because of his keen interest in ornithology and went on to develop and run a first class service until he took early retiral in 1983. (ref: 61)

At this time, Dr Agnes L Scott initiated and organised a cervical cytology screening service for the gynaecological clinics in the area. Having demonstrated the value of this method of detection of early cancer of the cervix, she decided to extend the service to cover all women "at risk". A meeting of the General Practitioners, gynaecologists, Medical Officers of Health and District Nurses in Dumfries and Galloway Area was convened and there was an enthusiastic response to the proposed population screening programme. In 1964 the first "Well Woman Clinic" in Scotland was established in Dumfries. Dr Ann Wolff was appointed to assist in the screening of cervical smears and later she was appointed as an Associate Specialist. (ref: 61)

In 1965 a separate Biochemistry Department was built and in January 1966 Dr Robert W Logan from the Glasgow Victoria infirmary (1959 to 1964) and Glasgow Royal Infirmary (1964 to 1966), was appointed as the first Consultant Biochemist. He commissioned the new department and with the new equipment provided, expanded the service. He introduced and personally performed radioisotope tests (Thyroid scanning, Schilling Test, red cell survival studies, etc.). He appointed Miss Irene Graham, BSc, as Basic Grade Biochemist ca. 1967 and later she was appointed as Senior Biochemist. Logan was appointed as Consultant at Glasgow Royal Hospital for Sick Children in April 1967 and was succeeded by Dr Ken Johnson, who had trained in Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham. (ref: 61,82)

In 1971, Archie Jenkins, who had been appointed in 1951 and who was in charge of all the laboratory technical services, died of cancer and was succeeded by John Ferguson, who had been his deputy for many years. Also, in 1971 Bryce Baird left to take up an appointment as Chief M.L.S.O. in Doncaster Royal Infirmary, where he was later appointed as Senior Chief M.L.S.O. He was succeeded as Senior M.L.S.O. by Charles Conchie who, like Baird, had worked in the Crichton Royal Hospital Laboratory.

Conchie's expertise in the maintenance and repair of equipment enabled the department to cope with a dramatic increase in workload which occurred at a time when there was a minimal increase in staff. (ref: 61)

In 1971, Dr Coyle, in Pathology, moved to Halifax Infirmary, Nova Scotia, Canada where he died ca 1986 (ref 131). After a succession of short stay locums, it was agreed that a second Consultant was required in Histo-Pathology and Dr John Hopkinson from Leeds was appointed. He established a museum of pathological specimens. Alan Turnbull, who had trained in the department, was appointed as Senior M.L.S.O. (ref: 61)

In 1974 Dr Gordon, in Bacteriology, was obliged to retire because of failing health and he was succeeded by Dr Frank Bone, a graduate of Newcastle University who had been trained in Edinburgh. Ronnie Black, who was a Senior M.L.S.O. in Bacteriology, having trained in the department since 1953, retired due to ill health. He was succeeded by George McQueen, who had also been trained in the department. (ref: 61)

In 1975 the new District General Hospital was opened in Dumfries with more room and improved facilities for each of the laboratory departments. A second Consultant in Haematology was approved and Dr Pauline Bailey, who had been a Consultant with Lothian Health Board, was appointed. A second Senior M.L.S.O. post was established in Blood Transfusion and Bob Straiton, who had been the Senior M.L.S.O. in Haematology was appointed to this new post. He was succeeded by Ronnie McLean, who previously worked in Bacteriology. (ref: 61)

In 1976 the Whitley Council Regulations were applied allowing most of the Senior M.L.S.O.S in each department to be upgraded to Chief and John Ferguson to Senior Chief. The following year, Ferguson died suddenly following a heart attack. As by that time the four departments were autonomous, though closely linked geographically and through the Division of Laboratory Medicine, no successor was appointed. (ref: 61)

In 1980 Dr Agnes Scott retired after thirty years of dedicated service. She was succeeded by Dr Ivan Gibson who had been trained in Northern Ireland and had been a Consultant in Canada. In the same year, Dr Hopkinson resigned to return to his home county and to take up an appointment in York. His post remained vacant until 1983 when Dr Awni Lutfy, who was born and educated in Jordon and trained in Glasgow, was appointed as Consultant Pathologist. (ref: 61)

In 1981 Dr Selwyn took early retirement and was succeeded by Dr Francis Toolis from Edinburgh. Toolis developed Clinical Haematology as a specialty and took over the treatment of blood diseases from the physicians. A second Consultant was approved in Bacteriology and Dr Barry Dale, who had trained in Manchester, was appointed. (ref: 61)

In 1989 Miss Heather Barrington, from Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was appointed as Principal Biochemist to succeed Margaret Mackie, who had retired after 36 years service in the department. Barrington became a Top Grade Biochemist at the 1990 re-gradingand retired in 2007.

In 1991 Dr John Paterson, Senior Registrar from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, was appointed as Consultant, prior to Ken Johnson's retiral in 1992. Paterson died in 2004.

Dr Ewan Bell, who had trained in Glasgow, was appointed as Consultant in 2005.


In 1950 Dr Wilfred Godden, Bacteriologist at the Dumfries County Buildings at that time, established a small laboratory in Stranraer. It was set up in a brick shelter which had been built during World War II as a gas decontamination centre, although it was never used as such. It was staffed by technicians and M.L.S.O.S and performed bacteriological and public health examinations for Stranraer, to avoid deterioration of specimens during transport to Dumfries. Mr J Banner was the first Senior Technician and was succeeded in 1952 by John Ogden. Ogden had been trained in the Royal Navy and had experience mainly in bacteriology. He was also trained to perform emergency blood cross matching and haematological tests for emergencies admitted to the Garrick Hospital. In 1968 emergency biochemical tests were introduced. With improved specimen transport arrangements, the amount of bacteriology was reduced until this aspect of the service was withdrawn completely in 1975. Several student technicians were appointed to assist Ogden but there were problems associated with giving an adequate training in such a small department. As a result, for much of the time Ogden was the only person available for out of hours emergencies. This pressure of work, the isolation of working half a mile away from the hospital and ill health made it necessary for him to take early retirement in 1981.

In 1982 Paul McFerran, an M.L.S.O. with a special qualification in haematology and who had been trained in Northern Ireland, was appointed as Senior M.L.S.O. in sole charge of the laboratory. In 1983 the old building was sold and McFerran moved into a specially built and equipped department at the Garrick Hospital. (ref: 61)

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Last updated September 2008