1.        Farewell to the PostGraduate Medical Centre - Geoff Campion
2.        Obituary - Michael Taylor
3.       Kemp Hospice - Olaf da Costa
4.        Martin Lewis in Retirement - Martin Lewis
5.       The Barber Institute - Peter Dutton

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to the Postgraduate Medical Centre

How sad it was to witness the demolition of the centre at the end of last year, considering the major contribution it had made to the health care of the district since opening in 1971. It was possible to rescue the ceramic collage from the wall inside the entrance, which depicted the herbal origins of many medical remedies, and which will be framed and exhibited in the new education centre as a token memorial.

The idea of building a postgraduate centre was conceived at a meeting of the medical society in the out-patient hall of the Mill Street hospital in 1967. The necessary finance would need to be raised by the society, so an appeals committee was appointed comprising:- Chairman Mr R.E.Gibbons (surgeon – now deceased), secretary Dr G.R.C.Campion (general practitioner), DrJ.G.Ball (general practitioner), Mr J.A. James (orthopaedic surgeon), and Dr J.Sheward (paediatrician – now deceased). Subsequently, various local dignitaries were co-opted, to help extend the appeal to the local community and commerce. Charitable status was obtained after considerable help from solicitors Thursfield and Adams, a brochure was produced, architect and quantity surveyor appointed and Mr D.Woolley (retired Midland Bank manager) offered his services as treasurer.

The appeal was launched in 1968 and with persuasion by the committee, the generosity of the medical community, general population and commerce, the income from donations, covenants and an interest free loan from the regional board covered the eventual total cost of £32,500 (I guess equivalent today to £650,000). There was a subsequent appeal and extension to the centre in 1984.

I am sure that all will agree that the centre was a huge asset to the district and an impressive monument to the initiative of the medical society.

Geoff Campion

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Dr Michael Taylor


Michael Taylor, former Kidderminster GP and chairman of the Kemp Hospice board of trustees, died on 20th December following a short illness. He leaves a widow Pat, two daughters, Claire and Catherine, and three grandsons.

Born in Wigan, he came to Kidderminster in 1966 to work as a GP with Malcolm Elliott and the late Rupert Hill, and was involved in moving the practice to the new health centre at Bromsgrove Street . As a factory doctor in the area, he was well known in all the carpet mills and also at Kidderminster General Hospital , where he served in the ophthalmology department and in A&E for more than 10 years. He retired from general practice in 1988.

He became involved with Kemp Hospice as a volunteer almost 20 years ago, becoming chairman of the trustees in 2002 after being on the board since 1993. He had been one of the prime movers in the imminent relocation of the hospice from its current home in Sutton Park road to its new home at the former Cedars Hotel, sitting on the design sub-committee for the new base. He had won the respect and affection of patients, staff and volunteers at Kemp and will be sadly missed.

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KEMP is a non-profit organisation working for and providing adult palliative care to those in the local community with life threatening illness. It provides a range of professional and lay services that meet the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of users and their families, both within KEMP's own premises and in the community.    

KEMP's core purpose is to provide both day care and care to patients in their own homes. However, a second strand of service will be to develop provision for those with severe chronic disease within a defined protocol. It is intended to use some 20% initial capacity at the Cedars for this purpose i.e. 3 of the 15 available places.

Over time, the intention will be to secure both increased capacity and access - from the present level of 5 to 7 days a week.  Also to develop a service profile that meets the needs of both patients and the local medical community.

In addition to direct care, KEMP will act as a resource for the provision of information, the dissemination of best practice and as a means of offering experience to those working in the field. Dr. Baron Mendes da Costa will be holding seminars on a multidisciplinary basis for nurses, carers and other health workers. KEMP also prides itself upon the quality of its bereavement services that helps to prepare users and offers support to carers.

The cost of providing the service last year was £434,000.

Points to note:

1. Route of referral - via GP's, Mac's and District Nurses or by self-referral.

2. Medical cover at GP and Consultant level.

3. KEMP's willingness to be flexible and open to partnership working.

4. Open Days.

Olaf Da Costa - Trustee

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  When I look back on my twenty-nine years of practice in Kidderminster , I am struck by the incredible changes and developments I have witnessed and of which I have been a part.  Thus, in 1975 I initially shared an office with the then Senior Chief Technician, Walter Dunsby, and Walter provided a link right back to the establishment of the first laboratory in the District in a basement room in Mill Street in the 1940’s.  Counting chambers were still in regular use in the department when I arrived but these were soon relegated to the laboratory museum and over the succeeding decades, automation, electronics and computerisation have transformed our output beyond all recognition.

The last thirty years or so has also been a really exciting time to practice clinical haematology, with major advances achieved in the treatment of all forms of leukaemia and of many lymph gland cancers.  For example, the commonest form of childhood leukaemia is now curable in at least 60% of patients and I myself have seen similar results in teenagers.  I particularly remember one young lady I treated in the late 1970’s who is now married with three children of her own.  Similarly, advanced stage Hodgkin’s Disease and the aggressive forms of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma would have been almost invariably fatal forty years ago and can now be cured in 50% of cases.

More recently still, the advent of bone marrow and stem cell transplantation techniques have provided yet further opportunities to treat and sometimes cure, particularly resistant and aggressive forms of blood and lymph gland cancers.  Transplantation has also been used very successfully in one patient of mine with primary bone marrow failure, who was requiring weekly blood and platelet transfusion support for several years, and is now restored to excellent health with a stem cell donation from her brother.  In addition, so-called designer drugs, such as imatinib for treatment of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia, have become available in the last two or three years.  These are able to exploit a specific defect in the neoplastic cell line and thereby block maturation and control the condition for extended periods with relatively few adverse effects. I understand that many more such agents are in development at the moment and may eventually provide a further revolution in the treatment of many forms of cancer.

I have certainly never regretted my move to this area from South London and also the decision to opt for the Kidderminster end of the axis when the Bromsgrove department moved to Redditch . I was made very welcome from the outset by Richard Taylor, Howard Eeles and many others and the close working relationship I have enjoyed with all of my consultant colleagues and local GP’s has been particularly rewarding.  The team spirit generated within the hospital and spearheaded by a succession of Medical Staff Committee Chairmen, including Bob Gibbins, Richard Taylor and John Murray,  undoubtedly made a major contribution to the ethos of our establishment.  This team spirit was especially evident on the wards and reflected in the quality of patient care from both nursing and allied professions.

I was also very fortunate with the team of technical and secretarial staff that I joined on my arrival or appointed within my first few years at Kidderminster .  Quite a number of these colleagues are still in post within the Trust after more than twenty years service and have certainly made a significant contribution to the continuity and quality of patient care within this District.

I cannot leave the topic of patient care without mentioning our wonderful Hospital League of Friends and the tremendous generosity of so many local people.  Their donations have had a major impact on both clinical and laboratory activities over the years.  In particular, contributions to the Leukaemia Trust Fund well in excess of £100,000 have been made, which enabled much valuable equipment to be purchased as well as the construction of a special room on the medical ward for the care of patients with severe susceptibility to infection.

Other highlights of my years in this community have included one or two very modest contributions to the hospital Christmas shows.  I particularly remember taking part in a song and dance routine with Chris Gait amongst others, all dressed in striped blazers and sporting straw boaters.  I am also proud to have supported many of the campaign events endeavouring to save the General Hospital a few years ago, including one memorable march of 10,000 to the Town Hall, when I carried a placard sponsored by “Eric the Fish”!

In retirement, it has been a great pleasure for me to have had the opportunity to join some of my old friends from the hospital on the Cleobury Mortimer Golf Course each Thursday and under their instruction I have even managed to reduce my handicap by a few strokes.  In addition, I hope to continue to sing heartily, if not always tunefully, with the Kidderminster Choral Society and should have more time to pursue some of my other passions for bird watching, walking, cycling and at long last, learning to sail the Mirror dinghy I constructed at Kidderminster Technical College many years ago.  Unfortunately, I also appear to have given Kidderminster Harriers the kiss of death in the Football League by being elected to the board of the Supporters Trust, but I still live in hopes that they can yet survive the drop back into the Conference.

Maureen and I arrived in Kidderminster in 1975 with three young children and I am happy to report that they are now all gainfully employed.  Thus my eldest, a maths graduate, is a Reader in Epidemiology for Nottingham University Medical School and my youngest works as a journalist for Birmingham City Football Club.  Meanwhile, David has given us two lovely grandchildren and has recently been appointed Consultant Community Paediatrician to Wyre Forest , a matter of considerable pride to me.  Maureen, not to be outdone, started her General Nurse training in the 1980’s and subsequently qualified and practiced as a midwife.  Happily, we are both now in retirement together and content to leave our son to continue to fly the Lewis flag within our local healthcare community.

Martin Lewis


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The Barber Institute

  Sunday 27th February, we met at the Institute of Fine Art at 12.30 for a conducted tour followed by a buffet lunch. As there were 40 of us we divided into 2 more manageable groups of 20, to be taken on a chronologically arranged tour of the Green, Red & Blue galleries and finally for the special exhibition “Space versus Surface”.

This exhibition (drawing exclusively on the Institute’s permanent collection) illustrates how through the ages artists have used the agencies of colour, proportion and light to represent the three dimensional feeling of space on the flat surface of the canvas.

A small exhibition of Degas’ “Miss Lala at the Cirque Fernando” showed preliminary drawings, X-rays and an infra-red reflectogram showing surprisingly how the final oil on canvas had been considerably underdrawn and painted with regard to the circus roof structure, with little or no attention to the figure of Miss Lala.

Our tour of the remainder of the gallery was a series of specially chosen cameos. The gallery, although small, has a well spread choice representative of art from the 14th to 20th centuries. It was voted the best small gallery in the country last year, and could reasonably claim to be the best small collection in the world.

The Institute was founded and funded by Dame Martha Constance Barber, the widow of a wealthy solicitor turned property magnate. She is depicted in a particularly lovely portrait in the entrance hall looking a vivacious and attractive lady.

Peter Dutton

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