Glasgow - Southern General Hospital

Glasgow Biochemists' Club


Stobhill Hospital had been built by the Parish Council. They agreed to acquire land in 1899 and appointed architects in 1900. The foundation stone was laid in September 1901 and the buildings completed in 1903. It was officially opened, with 1867 beds, in September 1904, by which time there were already 888 patients. Stobhill was requisitioned in 1914 as the 3rd and 4th Scottish general Hospitals under RAMC Territorials. 1040 beds were made available for wounded troops, who were brought from the continent by train to the hospital. A temporary platform was erected on the railway siding which ran into the grounds of the hospital to help receive these patients. The military staff left in 1919 and the hospital reverted to civilian use in 1920. James Eric Paterson, a visiting surgeon (1924 to 1949) was described as being "in the early thirties - - a lone voice preaching the importance of biochemical investigations". (ref: 169)

In 1937 Noah Morris, who had been a General Practitioner in Glasgow in the 1920s and Lecturer in Biochemistry and Honorary Consultant at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow for a decade, was appointed as Regius Professor in Materia Medica and Therapeutics at Glasgow University. The University was a bit embarrassed when, for reasons of racial prejudice, the Western Infirmary refused to give Morris the charge of beds held by his predecessor. Sir Hector Hetherington, Principal for the University, and Sir Alexander Macgregor, Medical Officer of Health, arranged that the new professor should be allocated wards in one of the Municipal Hospitals and Stobhill was considered the most suitable. At that time, Stobhill was a large, not very active, general hospital. Its total bed complement was in excess of 1600 and its average bed occupancy in 1949 was 1200. Glasgow Corporation, who ran it, was happy to provide a very large allocation of medical beds for the new teaching unit and to rearrange the Corporation bus schedule to make it possible for students to attend lectures at Gilmorehill and then proceed to Stobhill for clinical teaching. Biochemistry laboratory services were rudimentary and Morris arranged for a new laboratory to be built in the original admission block (a small cottage-like building adjacent to the administration block), by Glasgow Corporation, soon after his appointment. The department was expanded gradually by acquiring space in the adjacent areas occupied by Materia Medica (including the Demonstration Room and Lecture Room) but was never provided with new accommodation. Alex McCutcheon, who had been Morris's technician at the R.H.S.C, Yorkhill, was appointed to the new laboratory. In 1939/40 Morris was appointed as part-time director of the Western Regional Blood Transfusion Service, which was housed in the St Andrews Ambulance premises. Although Morris's research projects conferred a heavy work load on his medical and nursing staff, his enthusiasm was so infectious that he had the willing co-operation from his staff who were eager to learn. He was much missed when he died in 1947. (ref: 7, 10, 29, 32, 70, 96, 169)

Sam C Frazer, (who was Professor of Chemical Pathology in Aberdeen from 1962 to 1983) was a student at Stobhill from 1942 to 1944 and one of three House Officers in Morris's Unit from 1944 to 1945. The laboratory work was performed by one technician (Alex McCutcheon) and the repertoire included blood and urine urea, serum chloride, sugar, acid & alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, albumin, globulin, carbon dioxide combining power, carbon dioxide content, urinary diastase and ammonia and CSF protein. 17- oxosteroids and calcium were very occasionally measured. For patients with advanced Addison's Disease, a sample might be sent for gravimetric measurement of sodium and potassium before and after treatment with Eucortone. House Officers were discouraged from sending specimens to the laboratory unless specifically told to do so by the Chief or Registrar. They were expected to do their own urine testing as well as blood grouping, cross-matching, out-of-hours blood sugars(by a picrate method involving the use of an elegant little visual colorimeter made by Zeiss, which had a rotating wedge pre-calibrated in milligrams/100cc) and minor bacteriology, in ward side rooms. Frazer found that Morris was a superb bed-side teacher and was always hammering home the importance of clinical biochemistry as a vital part of diagnosis and management of disease. (ref: 10,32)

J Wilson Chambers was appointed as the first Consultant Biochemist on 1st August 1949 and, a few months later, as Senior Lecturer at Glasgow University. Although based at Stobhill, Chambers was consultant for all the Northern Group of Hospitals. At that time there were about 1000 beds at Stobhill Hospital and the space, in what was labelled "Research Laboratory", was excellent for the time - ca. 2000 square feet. The staff comprised one chief technician, who worked mainly for the Professorial Unit (Materia Medica), one trainee girl and a boy. There was also a middle aged lady, originally recruited to do leucocyte counts, etc. for an idiosyncratic clinician in ENT; she did some of the routine biochemistry work. There was no Haematology Department and blood counts were done in the clinical unit side rooms. For many years the laboratory assayed haemoglobin - at first on a home-made photo-electric apparatus devised by Dr George H Bell (who later became Professor of Physiology in Dundee and co-authored with JN Davidson and H Scarborough "A Textbook of Physiology and Biochemistry" popularly known as "BDS"). For about a decade after the advent of anti-coagulant therapy, the Biochemistry Department took on the prothrombin time estimation and Chambers and his Registrar ordered all the dosage of the drugs -"Dindevan" and its successors. (ref: 8, 10)

In the 1950s Arthur Mollison was the Registrar at Stobhill Hospital. He had been Chief Pharmacist at Law Hospital from 1940 to 1946, graduated in MB ChB in 1950, a Senior House Medical Officer in Aberdeen in 1957 and was consultant in Paisley from 1963 until ca. 1981. For many years the Sunday estimations of prothrombin time and any blood sugars or ureas which were required were performed by Chambers, McCutcheon and Mollison on a rota and for many years McCutcheon was the "emergency rota' in person. (ref: 8,13) Mollison was succeeded by WHS Thomson in 1957 who in turn was appointed to the Western Infirmary in 1958. (ref: 146)

Chambers described his early days in Stobhill General Hospital as being spent in "clinical teaching and gaining clinical experience". This prepared the way for the revolution brought about by the advent of the flame photometer in the early 1950s. This made accurate sodium and potassium results easily available. The results of these assays were applied to a wide range of acute clinical problems in all types of unit (Surgical, Medical, Paediatric, Infectious Diseases, Obstetrics and Gynaecology). Procedures were devised for planned monitoring of patients and their treatment with fluids, electrolytes and glucose. It was shown that, with biochemical control, the conservative management of acute renal failure had a very high success rate. (This was in the years before renal dialysis was available and was arduous and rewarding work. Later, some patients were transferred to Leeds as dialysis facilities became available there.) These cases were reported at clinical meetings throughout Glasgow and in post-graduate courses, leading to a wide appreciation of the value of simple biochemical findings in association with clinical common sense and effort. Tutorials given by Chambers in the mid 1960s were based on carefully documented results from his case book. Two decades later RJ Crawford (Consultant in B.T.S., Law Hospital, Lanarkshire) still treasured the Woolworth's note book in which he had recorded these cases as an intensive student in 1967. (ref: 8, 146)

Eugenia Creegan was appointed part time in the laboratory at Stobhill in 1957. As Genia Semeonoff, she had worked part time in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (from 1926 to 1929) while studying for a science degree. She had worked at the Crichton Royal, Dumfries, from 1933 to 1941, in Sheffield Women's Hospital from 1941 to 1943, in the MRC Burns Unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and in Birmingham (where it moved after a few months) from 1943 to 1945. After her marriage, she took the job of Organising Secretary for Scotland for the Association of Scientific Workers from January 1946 to 1957. In 1957 there were two (female) biochemists and a number (about 8) of technicians. About a year later, Creegan was asked to start a small laboratory at Foresthall and to undertake there some biochemical investigation on geriatric patients - the routine biochemical assays for Foresthall were done at Stobhill General Hospital. Dr Ferguson Anderson was to take an interest in these investigations. After the laboratory had been set up and preliminary runs of the methods had been performed, the doctor who looked after the clinical work at Foresthall left and interest in the project faded around 1959. Creegan took on part time responsibilities at Ruchill Hospital at this time and moved there full time in 1960 when the laboratory at Foresthall was abandoned. At Ruchill, she was second in command to the Senior Technician in Biochemistry and there were two other junior technical staff. She remarried in 1969 and retired, as Mrs Neil, at 65 in 1973. She was in her eighties when she died in the early 1990s. (ref: 110)

Ronald GS Leask was appointed as SHO and Registrar from 1959 to 60 and took up an appointment in Edinburgh from 1961 to 67. He returned in 1967 as Senior Registrar and later was Medical Assistant and then Associate Specialist. He retired in 1992. (ref: 146)

Maureen Childs, who had been at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, was senior biochemist. She had succeeded a Miss Small and later moved to the Southern General. Among the other biochemists in the 1950s and 60s were Josephine Dolores Barrett, Jean Buchanan (later Cormack), (ca. 1953 to 1958), J Eric Carlyle, who went to the Royal in 1971, Gartnavel in 1975 and Lanarkshire in 1979, Janet Cooke (later McMurray), who did the Birmingham MSc course while at Stobhill from 1965 to 66, Barbara Fleming, WH Scott-Thomson and Anne Young, a type I diabetic who was prone to hypoglycaemic attacks and who emigrated to North Carolina, USA and returned to the UK shortly before her death in the 1970s.

Bob Wilson was the Registrar from 1961 to 1967. RJ Crawford, (later Consultant in B.T.S., Law Hospital, Lanarkshire), was a locum in the Surgical Unit in 1966. He recalled that there would be "biochemical fury" if his specimens arrived late. In the late morning Wilson would phone and arrange to come and prescribe the intravenous fluids based on that day's results. (In the 1960s IV fluid regimes were very primitive and it was not realised that they did not take account of the requirements for nitrogen, phosphate, magnesium, calcium or zinc, let alone trace elements or vitamins. They were also inadequate in terms of energy.) Wilson was appointed as Senior Registrar at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary in 1967 and as Consultant in the Greenock Central Laboratory in 1970. (ref: 14,102)

In 1962 Janet W Scott, who had been a Basic Grade Biochemist in Southport General (1953-57) and Senior Biochemist in Bolton Royal Infirmary (1958-62), was appointed as Senior Biochemist and later as Principal Biochemist. She specialised in Paediatric Biochemistry until it was centralised at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill. She retired in 1985. (ref: 99, 146)

In 1968 Archie Jamieson, who had been Biochemist and Senior Biochemist at the Glasgow Victoria Infirmary from 1950 to 1968, was appointed as Principal Biochemist and, in 1973, as Top Grade Biochemist. He retired in 1979. (ref: 31)

Brenda M Slavin, who later spent much of her professional life as Senior Lecturer and Consultant in St Thomas's Hospital, London, was a Registrar in the late 1960s. She died in 2015.

In the 1960s, Stobhill provided services to Ruchill, Robroyston, Foresthall and Oakbank (the Western District Hospital) and the maternity unit at Lennox Castle. Leask made occasional visits to these hospitals to give advice or to instruct the new resident medical staff.

Wilson Chambers retired in 1975 and died in 1990. Jamieson was appointed as Head of Department and Baggat F Allam, who had been a Senior Registrar at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary from 1970 to 1975, was appointed as Consultant. Jamieson retired in 1979. Allam retired in the late 1990s and died ca. 2006.

In 1952, the total number of assays had been 16000. In the late 1950s the first autoanalyser was installed - one of the first in Scotland along with Glasgow Royal and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. In 1974 some 560,000 assays were reported from Technicon SMA 6/60, SMA 12/60 etc. and, when Chambers retired, the laboratory area had more than doubled and the number of staff had risen to almost 30. By the time Jamieson retired, in 1979, the workload had been transferred to a Technicon SMAC and 900,000 assays per annum were being reported. (The department had gradually built up a battery of some 20 tests which were performed routinely on most of the specimens, to give information on electrolytes, LFTs and bone metabolism.) (ref: 31)

John (Ian) Leggate was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist on Jamieson's retiral in 1979. He set up a group with D Mackay Hart to investigate postmenopausal osteoporosis and its prevention by hormone replacement therapy. (ref: 35)

Leggate started his career as a technician in 1951 in the Royal Maternity Hospital, Glasgow. After two years in industry (Pfizer Ltd. - 1957 to 59) and a year at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (1959 to 1960) he studied at Glasgow University, graduating BSc in 1964 and PhD in 1967. He was appointed as Lecturer in Aberdeen in 1967 and as Senior Biochemist in Hawkhead Hospital, Paisley in 1970. There he was subsequently appointed as Principal Biochemist and Top Grade Biochemist (1975 to 1977). He was Laboratory Director at Al-Sabah Hospital in Kuwait from 1977 to 1979 and, during this time, set up laboratories in five hospitals in Kuwait. He was very active on the National Consultative Committee of Scientists and latterly, as its chairman, he served on the Scottish Health Service Planning Council. This committee was replaced in 1989 by the Scottish National Advisory Council for Scientific Services of which he was Vice-President. He was awarded the O.B.E. in the 1991 New Year Honours List and he retired in March 1991. He died in 2015. (ref: 35,119)

Hilary Rolton, from Monklands Hospital in Lanarkshire (1976 -1984), was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1984.

Bill Borland, (Basic Grade Biochemist 1974 - 1980 and Senior Biochemist 1980 - 1984) was appointed as Senior Biochemist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1984

Janet Tillman (nee Cameron), who had been appointed as a Basic Grade Biochemist in 1976 and Senior Biochemist in 1982, was appointed as Principal Biochemist at Hairmyres Hospital in Lanarkshire in 1988.

Other biochemists who were appointed in the 1970s include Morag M Dagen, who was appointed to the Royal Infirmary in 1988, Beth Farish, who was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist in 1992 and retired in 2005, Colin Fletcher, who retired in 2012, and Tony McGill who took up an appointment in the Republic of Ireland in the early 1970s.

M Anne Pollock, from Hope Hospital, Salford, was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 1993. Pollock won the 2000 John King Award. Pollock was appointed Top Grade Biochemist at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness in 2005.

Peter Timms, who had been a Basic and Senior Biochemist in Law Hospital and in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s was appointed as Senior Biochemist when he returned to the U.K. in 1993. He was the winner of the 1994 John King Award. He was appointed Principal Biochemist in St Bartholomew's Hospital, London in 1998.

Maurizio Panarelli was appointed as consultant in 2001. Panarelli had trained in Edinburgh (1993 to 1999), been a locum in Glasgow's Gartnavel General (1999 to 2000) and worked in Inveresk Research for a year (2000). He was interested in osteoporosis.

Eleanor Oakes was appointed as a Grade A Trainee in 2003.

Judith Barnes retired in 2007.

Graeme Duffin, MLSO in Biochemistry, became one of the members of the pop group "Wet, wet, wet" and Richard "Victor Meldew" Wilson was an MLSO in Pathology.

Glasgow - Victoria Infirmary

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Last updated January 2016