1.        An Evening with Michael Wilkes - Martin Lewis
2.        General Practice 1936 - Dr M Ferens Batty
3.        The Medical Society Website - Barrie Davies
4.        The Turner Exhibition - John Parker
5.        Betrayed - John Tudor
6.        Miranda - John Tidor

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For the very first Medical Society meeting in the new Postgraduate Centre, we were treated to an entertaining and instructive presentation by an internationally renowned wildlife photographer. 

Mike Wilkes lives in North Worcestershire and takes many of his pictures from a static hide in the corner of a farmer’s field not far from Redditch .  From this apparently inauspicious vantage point, and battling against not only the elements but also the encroachment of resident cows with their electric fences and of a local cat on the prowl, he has taken many spectacular and prize winning photographs.

  The main theme of his talk on the 12th March centred around the bird-life of our area from autumn to spring although he also included some beautiful shots of snow buntings, crested tits and red squirrels taken in the Scottish Highlands and of a family of dippers pictured close to a roadside in North Devon. During his discourse, not only were we presented with many remarkable portraits of our resident bird population but also striking action pictures such as those of sloes being devoured by pigeons, blackbirds and redwings and of a sparrow hawk feasting on partridge.

During his talk Mike was generous enough to let us into many of the tricks of his trade. These included the positioning of adjustable perches sprinkled with seed to attract a pair of crows, amongst many other species, to give him yet another prize-winning submission to a national photographic competition, and the baiting of fish in a local stream to tempt the ever photogenic kingfisher.  He concluded his presentation by giving us some insights into the sex life of the pheasant and pictured the dominant cock, with all his magnificent summer plumage, surrounded by his harem of submissive hens.  All in all this was a tour de force by a specialist in the field (no pun intended) and a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Martin Lewis

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General Practice 1936

Letter from Peter Batty

            My mother has recently moved to a nursing home (she is now 96) and when clearing her bungalow discovered an article written by my late father, Alan Batty, in 1974 when he retired after 37 years in general practice.  He wrote the article describing life as a GP when he first started in 1936 and thought you might like to publish it in the Med Soc newsletter.  Very unusually for the Lot region we have had steady snow fall all morning and there is now at least 3-4cms and it's still falling.

Kind regards       Peter Batty

What changes have taken place in General Practice in the last 37 years.   When I entered general practice in 1936 I was faced with buying a partnership, buying and house and building a surgery.  This meant borrowing the money from the bank with my father as guarantor.  Nevertheless we lived quite well on £450 a year, kept a maid, and began to pay off the loan. There were two of us in the Practice and we worked hard.  There were no half days, surgeries were held morning and night 6 days a week and one on Sunday mornings; indeed there was one on Christmas mornings too, fora year or two, until I persuaded my partner eventually to give it up, and also Sunday mornings and to start to have half days.

  My house and surgery were two miles from the main surgery at my partner’s house and I held surgeries at both, that made 4 surgeries a day and there were usually 15-20 visits to do as well.

  National insurance only covered working men; wives and children were not covered so were treated either privately through the national deposit friendly society or through our Private Club.  The subscription to this was 3d (3 old pence) a week for each person and we employed a retired insurance agent to collect this weekly and paid him 10% of what he collected.  The Club entitled them to all necessary treatment and medicines.  We did all our own dispensing (for non- national insurance patients) during surgeries and before the evening surgery we made up all the medicines resulting from visits.  All these were wrapped and sealed with sealing wax.

  There was no sterilizer in the Practice when I joined it, and of course there were no disposable items.  Syringes and needles were kept in spirit and put back there after use and washing under the hot tap!  But we never seemed to get any trouble from this method.  I did my own blood counts with a Sahli haemoglobinometer and stained my own slides, centrifuged urines and microscoped the deposits – every student bought his own microscope and made his own slides when doing pathology and bacteriology.

  The disease pattern was quite different from today.  Classical lobar pneumonia was fairly frequent and as nursing was the main treatment one sometime made 2 or 3 visits a day to each case.  Scarlet fever was beginning to become a mild disease and you still had the antiseptic sheet hanging outside the bedroom door.  Diphtheria and TB were common.

  There was plenty of maternity work, but antenatals were only just beginning Many patients only saw the District Midwife/Nurse, so often the first intimation you had that a patient was pregnant was when you had an urgent message from the Midwife to go to see Mrs So and So because the cord had prolapsed, or a hand was presenting or there was a P.P.H. You thought nothing of doing a forceps delivery at home, or a manual removal of placenta, and your partner would give the anaesthetic, or you would give the patient Chloroform and then hand the bottle to the midwife to continue while you got on with the delivery, giving her instructions from  time to time.  Ether was never used on these occasions as there was usually an open fire in the grate, where the placenta, after being wrapped in newspaper, was burnt, together with any soiled dressings.

  In  these days of frustration and delay in getting patients seen or admitted to hospital it is amazing to think how perfect the arrangements were then,  you simply gave them a letter addressed to the Consultant concerned and said “take that down to the Hospital tomorrow” – or whatever day that particular Consultant had O.P.’s and that was that, and if he decided they needed admission, they were in within a week.  Emergencies of course were admitted immediately.  In the case of the chronic sick if the Hospital concerned was full or reluctant to admit a patient you simply wrote out a form which the relatives took to a local authority representative called a ‘Relieving Officer’ whose responsibility they then became, and who had the power to order the Hospital to admit the patient if he considered it justifiable.

  Private patients would be admitted to one of the two Private Hospitals then in Leicester, the Fielding Johnson and the Faire Hospital .  With Surgical cases my Partner and I would both go in, and one would give the anaesthetic, for which we had our own B.O.C. anaesthetic machine, while the other assisted.  We used to do quite a number of T’s and A’s and circumcisions, and these we usually did on a Sunday morning in the patient’s home - £2.2.0 for a T’s and A’s.

  We had a fortnight’s holiday each year, and while one was away the other did all the surgeries and visits, and of course all the night work; weekends off and E.T.S were unknown.  Yes, our life was full, and very satisfying and the Doctor/Patient relationship was a real factor in bringing the best out of you in every situation, and reflecting back over the years I think that the ties between Doctor and Patient have become steadily weakened and eroded (since the second world war) to the detriment of both.


Dr. A.M. Ferens Batty


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Kidderminster Medical Society Website

  At the Annual General Meeting in October it was suggested that a Society website could provide a useful way of disseminating news and information in addition to the newsletter. As a result of this I was asked to look into the possibilities.

Those computer literate amongst you will be aware that, to publish a website, you need a host web server who will display the product on the World Wide Web. In addition to that you would need someone who will design and edit the web pages in a computer language called hypertext mark-up language (html). That editor would be responsible for receiving news, gossip and articles, then putting that information onto the website pages and finally submitting it down the phone line to the host server. Needless to say, all this costs money.

I therefore suggested that, as an interim measure, I put some medical society website pages onto my own family website under a separate heading. This way will have the opportunity to judge the mood and opinion of members and finally make a decision as to whether a website is a feasible option.

For those of you who have not yet had the opportunity to visit the Kidderminster Medical Society website, you can access it at 


All the site contains at the moment is the current edition of the newsletter but I would be grateful for feedback which I will pass on at the next AGM.

Barrie Davies

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The Turner Exhibition


  Among my many failings is an apparently infallible ability to learn about an event soon after it has finished. A frustrating bad habit.  Occasionally however fortune jogs my planning so when the President e mailed me with the details of a visit to the Turner exhibition at the City Art Gallery on the 11th. January, I took the hint.

About 40 members gathered and had the additional bonus of an introductory lecture by Henrietta Lockhart which put the whole display into context.  Turner has always been one of my favourite artists but this was something special.  The biggest display of his work so far, including some pictures not seen before in public, together with sketchbooks, and other memorabilia. I hadn’t previously realised that much of his work was motivated by the need to produce good pictures which could be turned into engravings for the burgeoning publishing industry. The fine detail on much of this had to be seen to be believed.

The centrepiece was of course ‘the Fighting Temeraire’ and Henrietta’s talk brought out a number of points that I had previously missed. But there were many other treasures.  If  you weren’t there and are reading this after the 8th. February, then you missed a treat.  For once, I didn’t.


John Parker

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  There was no other word for it, betrayed. I had joined his club and worn his badge. I had trusted Tufty when he told me that if I followed his instructions I could cross the road in safety. Either he had not been to Vietnam , and I can’t believe that, or he was lying!

Hanoi airport is fiercely modern with dark cold marble and chrome. The staff immaculate but unnerving in their military uniforms. Passport control slick but we had to go through one at a time the children included. The taxi followed the only metalled road to the city. As far as we could see were paddy fields, often been worked by women and their buffalos. The road had few cars. There were many old trucks, some converted US army vehicles all belching out thick black fumes. The main traffic was small motorcycles and bicycles. These were often laden with metre high open weaved baskets. Several were full of piglets and fowl. One was full of laundry except for a small mongrel buried underneath. He was so cramped in his muzzle was pushed against the side, his lip raised in a Bogart type smile. Later seeing Korean restaurants with toffee apple coloured dog carcasses hanging next to other sweet and sour meats, we understood why he may not have been complaining.

As we approached the hotel, the architecture became classically French. The streets narrowed but cramped with markets stalls. Everything seemed to be for sale. Several stalls offered designer labels by the roll, tropical fish and, fruit some of which we had never seen before or knew off. Barbers had their chairs and leather strops outside. They offered a sideline in aural toilet.

We rapidly unpacked and fortified our selves with a drink from the bar. We were ready to explore. Progress was slow. Every thing was different; we had never seen a cock fight before. The problem came when we wanted to cross the road .It wasn’t that we didn’t know which side the traffic came from. That was obvious, wherever it wanted to. There was never a gap. We didn’t even get one foot off the pavement. We retired to our room defeated. From the seventeenth floor we watch the anarchical progression of the traffic and then saw the locals crossing. They glided from pavement to road to pavement. Tufty my foot, they did not stop or look, they just went. In groups or on their own they progressed in a ballet like swerve through the random chaos of vehicles. The secret was not to stop. Drivers would plan for those on foot to swerve, to duck or dive but never ever stop.

We had the secret. Our resolve faltered by the bar, but not for long . As I hesitated on the kerbside my hand was grabbed and with a forceful and slightly irritated  “Oh come on” my 10 year took me safely across the road to new delights .He had never held Tufty in the same regard.


John Tudor

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  My wife believes women are more observant than men, I beg to differ.

Our transfer from Bangkok airport to the Sheraton was efficient that evening. The reception staff welcoming  .I contained my frustration when only a single set of card keys was prepared, though our booking was clearly for two rooms. I had learnt some restraint on a previous trip. Coming off a tedious flight to Florida I had presented my car hire documents to the Dollar representative, “Two door” he said. “No” I snapped, “We have had a long flight, I ordered a four door and that’s what…” “No Mr Tudor, not two door”.

In a calm voice I mentioned our reservation for 2 rooms and was partially reassured by a reply of “Don’t worry”. The bellboy led us to the banks of lifts and explained we must only take the furthest lift on the right. Inside the lift there were only two buttons, ground and Penthouse. It seemed the Sheraton had over booked and the only remaining accommodation was their best suite .It was huge sharing the same floor area as our house. Every room seemed to have an ensuite, including the kitchen. The external walls were glass, offering a view of Bangkok by night. It seemed calm and sophisticated and bore no relation to the capital by day.

Having bathed and coped with the disappointment that bath foam in the Jacuzzi didn’t envelop the whole floor with suds, we needed feeding. We decided against room service, believing the tip, from the penthouse residents, to the Bellboy would be most of our holiday budget. We had spied a pizzeria near by. Feeling very self-conscious coming out of the penthouse lift we did a few circuits of the hotel so no one would realise that we were dining somewhere so cheap.

There were six waitresses. Five typically Thai, that is petite, feminine and pretty. Miranda was five foot eleven. Her voice was so deep that she made Louis Armstrong sound like a contralto. Peaking above the collar of her blouse was an adams apple of such size it cast a shadow. I refused her offer of help to mop up the half litre of luminescent pink pop that she poured over my groin .My son was crying trying to suppress his laughs. My wife and daughter chewed on their bread sticks, oblivious. I rest my case.


John Tudor

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