Raigmore was one of the seven new hospitals built in Scotland in 1939/40 as Emergency Medical Services hospitals.

In the 1940s, the laboratories were mainly at the Royal Northern Infirmary (R.N.I.) under the charge of Dr HJR Kirkpatrick, who was pathologist to the hospital and whose wife was a technician doing mainly haematology and BTS work.

Between 1936 and 1939 the Royal Northern Infirmary and some of the smaller hospitals in the north of Scotland formed their own small lists of donors who were called to donate blood in case of emergency. In the late summer of 1939 CP Stewart visited the R.N.I. and discussed with Kirkpatrick the setting up of a blood bank. Kirkpatrick was the director of the blood transfusion service which was formed and, which in March 1940, was called the Northern Regional Service. Mr AJC Hamilton, a surgeon to the hospital at that time, is quoted as saying "the journeying of the blood transfusion team during the war to collect blood from places as far apart as Kinlochleven, Wick and Thurso on stormy winter nights with car headlights masked was but another of the unrecorded epics of the war". Subsidiary blood banks were installed in the hospitals in Fort William, Stornoway and Wick and later in Broadford, Dingwall and Golspie. New premises in 1951 for BTS - directorship always part time - first pathologist then the haematologist of the RNI.

Biochemistry was established as a separate department when James Bruce was appointed as Consultant Biochemist in 1947. At interview, he had been told of a new laboratory which was imminent and this was partly why he accepted the post. The new laboratory opened in 1970.

James Bruce graduated with honours in Chemistry (Glasgow), medicine (Glasgow 1940) and MD (Glasgow 1954). He said that the study of chemistry created the tool that brought criticality to his interests and developed the mental discipline that made research of all kinds such a joy. (ref: 163)

Tom H Day was the first biochemist to be appointed and, when he moved to Colchester, he was succeeded by Joan CD Durward. Durward left to become Mrs Forrer when she married a ski instructor and moved to Switzerland in 1966. Angela Veitch was appointed as Basic Grade Biochemist in 1967 and in subsequent years as Senior and Principal Biochemist. She retired in 2004. In 1967 there was a total of 10 members of staff and the workload was 60 to 80 specimens per day. By 1995 the number of staff had risen to 18 and the workload to 500 to 600 specimens per day.

A second biochemist post was established in 1970 and a third in 1971. Raymond Moore from Belfast was appointed to the first of these and he was succeeded by Brian Shepherd when he returned to Belfast ca. 1973. Shepherd emigrated to San Diego, California in 1981 and was succeeded by Derek J McDonald. Helen Brough was appointed to the third post and was succeeded by Kate WA Riley (later McGill) in 1975. She in turn was succeeded by Brian Chapman in 1977 who later moved into IT.

Other biochemists who worked in the department include Morag Latto (later Lyall) (1971 to 1973), Pat A Thaw (1974 to 1976), who moved to Burton-on-Trent in 1976 and was in Shrewsbury in the late 1970s, Fiona M Fraser (later Sinclair) (1976 to 1985) and Mrs G Wallace who moved in 1970 to a small research laboratory at Craig Dunain Hospital. This laboratory was closed when she retired a few years later. (In the 1990s a research group based in Craig Dunain investigated the use of evening primrose oil in schizophrenia.)

The department moved into new premises in 1970 when the first phase of the new Raigmore Hospital was opened alongside the old hutted complex which had been the original hospital, built in 1939/40 as one of seven Scottish Emergency Medical Services hospitals.

James Bruce retired in 1978 and died aged 88 in 2002. (ref: 163)

Douglas DA Robertson, who had been a Registrar and Senior Registrar at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (from 1972 to 1978) was appointed as Consultant in December 1978 and retired in 2007. He died in 2016.

Mr David I Hunter was appointed to Pathology as an embryonic cytogeneticist and moved to St Mary's, Manchester in 1980

M Anne Pollock, from Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow, was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist in 2005. She was elected as an Emeritus Member of the ACB in 2016.

Catherine A Dorrian from RHSC, Glasgow was in Inverness in 2019.

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Last updated Nov 2019