Lanarkshire - Law and Wishaw General Hospitals


The original hospital was built near the village of East Kilbride as the Lanarkshire Inebriate Reformatory in 1904. The original buildings (which were later used as accommodation for male nursing staff and which were demolished in 1989) had wooden doors which could be thrown open to catch as much fresh air as possible. This fresh air and the altitude (ca. 175 metres) were important features in the next phase of Hairmyres Hospital.

The Reformatory closed in 1911 and, in 1914, work started on the Hairmyres Sanatorium and Colony (helped by German POWs). In 1919 it was opened (on the same day as Alcock & Brown completed the historic first non-stop flight across the Atlantic) as a centre for the unified treatment of tuberculosis. "Butterfly" pavilions were built. These were V-shaped buildings with a South facing aspect. They had a 12 bed ward in each wing and the ground floor had French windows leading onto roofed, open verandas. Beds, protected by rain proof covers, were pushed out each day in all weathers so that the patients might benefit from the fresh, and often vigorously moving air. A mortuary with associated side rooms was built (replacing the original mortuary which had been built in the boiler house block) in 1935 and this remained the sole laboratory space until 1956.

In 1939, E.M.S. huts had been added and the hospital was run as a joint civilian/military operation. With the provision of the E.M.S. huts, acute medical and surgical wards were provided.

George Orwell was admitted (under his real name of Eric Blair) in December 1947. His tuberculosis had been aggravated by his struggle to make his latest work, "The Last Man in Europe", his best book. He worked on the rough draft of this novel while at Hairmyres Hospital and finished it when he returned to Jura in July 1948. His publisher didn't like the title, so Orwell transposed the last two digits of the year of the work's completion and renamed it "1984". Orwell had been started on treatment with streptomycin, which he had obtained from a friend in America (where it had been discovered in 1944). Unfortunately he suffered side-effects and, although two other patients were successfully treated with his supply of this antibiotic, his treatment had to be stopped. Orwell died in January 1950.

Bruce Mackenzie Dick, a pioneer in thoracic surgery who had been seconded out of the Services to set up a thoracic unit at Gleneagles Hotel (which had been set up as an Emergency Medical Services hospital in 1939/40), was transferred with the unit to Hairmyres to form the first fully operational thoracic unit in Scotland. Orwell, who had been one of his patients, had used some of the American royalties on his books to purchase American surgical instruments for Dick, as currency restrictions made it impossible to buy anything direct from the U.S.A. (ref: 55)

In the early 1950s, Jim Halcrow, a Consultant Physician, was given the charge of the mortuary and laboratory. In 1956 Bruce Woodger was appointed as the first Consultant Pathologist.

Following his army service, Woodger had been appointed at Glasgow Royal Infirmary Pathology Department and had trained in all of the laboratory disciplines. He had been a Senior Registrar from 1952 to ca 1954 and had visited several of the Lanarkshire Hospitals, including Hairmyres, to perform post mortem examinations.

New laboratory premises were built in 1956 in the former WRVS shop (which had been built in 1931) and an Animal House was built alongside for the guinea pigs which were used at that time in the diagnosis of tuberculosis. In 1963, the laboratory was extended and in 1976 the Animal House was converted into a Haematology Department.

Tom Symington, Professor of Pathology at Glasgow University, included Hairmyres in the hospital rotation for his trainee Registrars at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (Symington came from Lanarkshire and this may have had some bearing on this practice). Thus, several eminent Pathologists, including Professor Hugh Simpson, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Professor Frank Walker, Aberdeen, a Professor of Pathology at Kampala and a Director of Laboratory Services for Tanzania, received part of their training in Hairmyres Hospital Laboratory.

Tom Faulds, from Glasgow Western Infirmary, was appointed as chief technician in 1956. He died of a coronary in his early 30s ca. 1962.

Charles Cunningham was appointed as the first Biochemist in the mid 1960s and was succeeded by Richard M Evans in 1976.

Bruce Woodger went to Kenya in 1970 to help set up a School of Medicine in Nairobi. He returned in 1972 to help plan the laboratories at Monklands District General Hospital in Airdrie.

James McKay, who had been appointed as locum during Woodger's period in Kenya, was appointed as Consultant and took charge of the Pathology Department when Woodger was appointed as Consultant Pathologist at Monklands Hospital in 1976.

In 1976 the laboratory was divided into separate disciplines and combined with the Monklands District General Hospital departments and became part of the North Lanarkshire Division of Laboratory Medicine. The Biochemistry Department, which had been based largely on manual assays until autoanalysers were first purchased in 1974, expanded into refurbished accommodation after the Bacteriology and Haematology Departments had moved into new premises in 1981 and the new Pathology Department and Mortuary were opened in 1985 (via a severe winter (1981/82) in a wooden building which had been an Occupational Therapy Unit prior to its being taken over by the hospital gardener).

Richard M Evans was appointed as a Basic Grade Biochemist in 1976. He was upgraded to Senior Biochemist in 1978.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Evans and Lilias Currie, a part-time biochemist, studied the distribution of ascorbic acid between various cellular components of blood. Allan Campbell, Consultant Physician at Hairmyres, was using large doses of ascorbic acid (2.5g thrice daily) in the treatment of patients with neoplastic disorders. During this time, Linus Pauling, Nobel Laureate, visited the unit and discussed their results. Also in the 1980s, Evans wrote a software package to enable a Wang 2200 minicomputer to handle the laboratory's data processing and reporting. In 1987 Evans was appointed as Principal Biochemist at Law Hospital, Lanarkshire and retired in 2008.

Janet Tillman, from Stobhill General Hospital, Glasgow, where she had been a Basic Grade (1976 to 1982) and Senior (1982 to 1988) Biochemist, was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 1988 and Top Grade Biochemist in 1994.

Jackie Herdman, Grade A Trainee Biochemist from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, was appointed as a temporary Senior Biochemist from December 1997 to March 1998. She was appointed as Senior Biochemist at Edinburgh Royal in 1998. She returned to Hairmyres as Principal Biochemist in 2001 and later became Mrs McGuire. She was appointed as Top Grade at Wishaw General in 2008.

Catherine A Dorrian from Glasgow Royal Infirmary was appointed as a part-time Senior Biochemist in 2008. Cathy had started her career at the Scottish Antibody Production Unit at Law Hospital and she was the winner of the 1996 John King Award with a paper titled "Enzyme Immunoassays: Problems with antibody interference" when she was Gartnavel General. She was appointed as Top Grade at RHSC, Glasgow in 2010, taking up her appointment in 2011.

Rav Sodi was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 2012. Sodi undertook his undergraduate studies in Canada. This was followed by training in Clinical Biochemistry in the South East of England at the Royal Surrey County Hospital and Frimley Park Hospitals between 2000-2002 when he undertook an MSc degree in Clinical Biochemistry with Molecular Biology at the University of Surrey. In 2003 he was appointed as Senior Clinical Biochemist at the Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospital, where he also completed a PhD in Clinical Chemistry. This was followed by a Principal Clinical Biochemist post at the Royal Cornwall Hospital and Peninsula Medical School in 2010. Sodi has published widely in the area of Laboratory Medicine, is a reviewer for various clinical journals and an Associate Editor. He was appointed Consultant Clinical Biochemist at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay and Honorary Lecturer at the University of Lancaster in 2016. In 2020 he was appointed Consultant Clinical Biochemist at University Hospitals, Dorset.

Jennifer Lochrie, from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, won the John King Award in 2008, was appointed to a part-time Principal post at Hairmyres in 2013.

Gemma O'Reilly (nee Gallacher) was appointed as Principal Biochemist 2014. She had been appointed as a Grade A trainee in Sep 2009 based at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, graduated PhD from the University of Strathclyde in July 2010 and moved into the new Laboratory Medicine Building on the Southern General site in June 2012. She had been appointed as Senior Biochemist in in Wishaw General 2013 and was appointed as Principal Biochemist at Monklands Hospital in 2016.

Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Grade A trainee from St Georges, Tooting, Senior Biochemist at Wishaw and Principal Biochemist at the Royal Alexandra Infirmary, Paisley, was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 2016.

Lanarkshire - Monklands General Hospital

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Last updated June 2021