1.       Wyre Forest Primary Care Centre Opens
2.       Obituary - Robert Gibbins
Farewell to C Block
4.       Where are they now ? - Lucien Gunaratne
5.       1995 Annual Dinner

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Friday, 1st September 1995 saw the opening of the new General Practice Primary Health Care Emergency Centre based alongside the Accident & Emergency department at Kidderminster General Hospital (the suite where the centre is based poses as the Orthopaedic Outpatients Department during the day). The concept of an out-of-hours cooperative involving all local practices in Kidderminster, Stourport and Bewdley was born at a General Practitioners Association meeting in March this year when the two editors were asked to investigate the possibility and its implications. By May the basic foundations of a low cost, triage nurse led service were laid down; advantage was also taken of recent changes in paragraph 13 of general practitioners terms of service which underlined the fact that the location of an emergency consultation was solely at the discretion of the
doctor. Considerable discussion took place between all the practices and by June a firm commitment by every general Practitioner in Kidderminster, Stourport & Bewdley was in place for a September 1st opening deadline.

There followed three months of late hours, meetings, arguments, crises and successes on the part of chairman Graeme Wilcox, secretary (later appointed chief executive) Barrie Davies and steering committee members drawn from all the practices. Despite adverse press publicity, political rumblings from sections of the Community Health Council and legal hitches concerning the nurses' professional indemnity, the deadline of September 1st was rigidly adhered to. At the opening, which was admirably covered by BBC Television News, best wishes for success were offered by the Trust, DHA and Clive Parr (of the FHSA). There have also been best wishes received from many parts of the UK. The next few months look to be busy ones with many interested visitors including David Clarke, senior medical officer at the NHS Executive.

The centre takes calls from all local practices between the hours of 6pm and Bam, Monday to Friday and between noon on Saturday until Bam Monday; Bank holidays are also covered. At least two doctors will be on call at anyone time to deal with patients at the centre or in the patients homes. It is repeatedly stressed however that home visits will always be assessed on medical necessity rather than social convenience. Every contact will be comprehensively documented and meticulously audited so that at the end of the 1 year pilot study it is hoped to announce a resounding success.

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It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of Bob Gibbins. The following is Richard Taylor's address at his funeral at Arley Kings Church.

We are here to honour the passing and to celebrate the life of Robert Gibbins, the father of Kidderminster General Hospital already commemorated by the plaque in the entrance to 'C' Block. This states 'This block is named after Robert E. Gibbins, Surgeon to the hospital 1949 - 1979 who devoted his energies to its advancement'. These words so carefully chosen are so richly deserved.

I am only going to touch on his work as a surgeon as we all know of his excellence as a truly general surgeon. He was the surgeon we all approached to look after family members. I am sure we all have had friends or acquaintances to testify to his skills during his 30 years at Kidderminster General Hospital. His retirement has been an object lesson to all of us. He taught himself two new skills. Firstly that of a hand surgeon. he retired completely from KGH, typically of his self-effacement to give everyone else a free hand, and he established with Pam's help a much needed service for rheumatology hand surgery for the patients attending Droitwich. He and Pam collected their data and actually published their results. Most of us stop writing papers fairly early in our careers - not Robert - he only stopped long after his retirement.

The second skill was that of a clock repairer. Again, many of us have had our clocks not only repaired but rebuilt where necessary and finished meticulously with every tiny part polished like a mirror. In his retirement he kept in touch unobtrusively through his membership of the committee of the Hospital league of Friends and the Community Health Council. 

But Robert will be best remembered for his deeper qualities. I am going to talk about these as the 3 Fs. First, F for father. Amazingly with all his commitments Robert was a family man,.a ~uperb husband and father to Pippa, Robbie, Stephen and Emma. He was always encouraging to his family arid'took a great pride in their achievements. I shall always remember how proud he was of one of his son's leading article in the British Medical Journal, much prouder than his own paper. He was determined to reach his 81 st birthday for his family, and this he did.

He was also father to all of us at the hospital. He was the senior figure that welcomed us as newly appointed consultants. He told us how to tackle the administrators of the day and how to tap the magic fund of money that existed in the 1970s, revenue consequences of consultant appointments! He encouraged us to take over some of the administrative duties he had undertaken and had the ability to move to a back seat without becoming a back seat driver.

My second F is F for Friend. Needless to say he was a good friend to all of us always. I think it was his friendliness and lack of senior consultant bigotry that set our hospital on the right track to become one of the most friendly in the West Midlands. On a personal note I shall never forget his and Pam's friendship and support at the time of my own troubles. F is also for Friend with a capital F. He was of Quaker stock. According to Britannica a Quaker is dedicated to living in accordance with a direct inward apprehension of God and with the belief of 'God in every man'. Quakers have
been especially effective social reform'ers. This background helps  to understand Robert's strengths and attributes and brings me on to the third F.

F for Founder. He was the one who battled with the Regional Hospital Board for a proper district general hospital in Kidderminster and then as a member of the Mid-Worcestershire Hospital Management Committee for Kidderminster's independence. He was also one of the founders of the Post Graduate Medical Centre. Lady Eddy remembers that it was Robert'who approached her to be President of the Appeal. The PGMC has done more to weld together hospital doctors and GPs than anything else. Walt Whitman, in describing the greatest of all Americans, used these words - gentle just and resolute - and goes on to say that it was his 'cautious hand' that saved the union. It was Robert's gentleness, justness, resolution and cautious hand that founded our hospital as we know it today and led it on the right lines until his retirement. We will remember Robert as a thoroughly good man, a technically excellent, caring surgeon who took the lead in all hospital affairs for 30 years and thoroughly deserves his commemorative plaque in C Block. Despite his total commitment to the hospital he also managed to be a super husband and father and a real friend to hospital staff.
Since his retirement Robert had more than his share of illness and latterly many hospital admissions. He bore these with courage and cheerfulness and was an ideal patient from the doctors' and nurses' points of view. He made the transformation from doctor to patient with great dignity.
In his last few days he knew exactly what was happening. With his usual humbleness he asked Paul Brothwell for help as he had not been on this journey before and he wanted to get it right. I believe those were his words, I am sure he got it right. I can only finish with the first verse of an old hymn.

Now the labourer's task is o'er, Lands the voyager at last.
Now the battle-day is past; Father, in Thy gracious keeping
Now upon the farther shore Leave we now Thy servant sleeping.

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There was much activity in the first week of Mayas many medical, nursing and secretarial staff prepared for the move into Phase VI. Main theatres closed to elective procedures for 5 days, with emergency operating being undertaken in the Day Surgery unit over the weekend during the move of Main Theatres. The very smooth move into the new block was made possible as a result of the extremely hard work of nursing, medical and secretarial staff, with minimal disruption to patient care. Phase VI offers a superb environment to compliment the high quality clinical care offered by staff at the hospital. The new 'E' block entrance is airy, colour co-ordinated and with dedicated receptionists to offer advice and assistance to patients and visitors.

Out patient clinics are provided in well equipped consulting and treatment rooms, with nicely furnished patient waiting areas with access to refreshments from the trusty WRVS shop. Much work is in hand to ensure compliance with the Patients Charter Standards for outpatients in respect of the 30 minute wait and 13 week wait for new out patient appointments. There are 3 inpatient 28 bed surgical wards. E2 is the Orthopaedic ward. E3 is the mixed General Surgery ward. E4 is the Urology / General Surgery ward. E5 is a dedicated 12 bed Day, Surgery ward with appropriately trained nursing staff providing a first class service. .

Currently up to 50% of all surgical activity is undertaken as day case surgery, and the Trust aims to meet the national standards for day case surgery for hernias, arthroscopies, laparoscopic sterilisation and cataracts by March 1996. All patients receive clear information leaflets regarding their operations and post operative care. There is a dedicated help line for day surgery patients seeking advice following their discharge home... There are 3 well equipped theatres, one of which has special air ducting, for orthopaedic and ophthalmic surgery. Each theatre has a suite of
rooms - sluice, scrub room, anaesthetic room etc. there is also a dedicated recovery area. All facilities are appropriately equipped to meet the
needs of patients and visitors with disabilities.

Pre-operative assessment clinics are being introduced for all surgical specialities and these take place on ward E5.  ITU / CCU has also transferred to Phase VI The environment is more conducive to ITU care, with immediate access to main theatres via connecting doors. There is also provision of a relatives room on the unit for overnight stays. This room is equipped with a sofa bed, tea and coffee making facilities and a telephone.

Phase VI has certainly been a long time coming. But the Trust is confident that with these new facilities, patient care can be further improved as will the ability of the trust to introduce new service developments in response to purchaser requests.

Maggs Barnaby

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( I was recently in touch with Mr Lucien Gunaratne, who many of you will recall was surgical assistant in the A&E Department until his return to Sri Lanka in 1985. The following is an extract from his reply. Ed.)

I returned from the UK in 1985 and started a small specialised surgical practice in the private sector. I had to contend with the wrath of the consultants in the Government Health service in this, as well as other towns close by. Still, I was managing quite well until I developed a severe cataract in my right eye (quite rapidly). I had a lens implant at Kandy General Hospital (only 25 miles away) and I decided to retire from practice.
Fortunately, the National Health Service accepted my decision and I can live in comfort with the NHS pension in Sri Lanka. I refuse to charge for any medical or surgical opinions; that is the way to survive here. I devoted all my equipment, worth several thousand pounds, to Kandy General Hospital.
In 1988, I started a society for the care of paraplegics and I was its president until Kandy took over the project and the concept is alive and kicking.
Meanwhile I send you all my best wishes. Please give my affectionate regards to all in your society. 

Lucien Gunaratne

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1995 Annual Dinner

On Friday 19th May 1995, some 100 members and their guests came to the annual dinner which, on this occasion, was held at the Heath Hotel, Wribbenhall. After a substantial meal the president, Dr Janette Adams welcomed the members and their guests. She then asked Dr Peter Batty to make a presentation, and after a few very well chosen words of introduction - with particular reference to 1.2 million falling off a lorry on the way to Bromsgrove- Peter presented a gift from the General Practitioners Association to our retiring senior physician, Dr Richard Taylor.

The president then introduced the main speaker of the evening - Colin Blashford-Snell, founder of the Scientific Exploration Society, Operation Drake and later Operation Raleigh. He gave a long, varied and very interesting presentation on his exploits, countries and sights visited and an
amusing description of various projects for all age groups. We were particularly amused and horrified by some of the tricks played on unsuspecting members and potential members of expeditions including Gibbons in the Rhododendrons, Gorillas in Zaire and especially the exploits of
a Tarantula called Fifi ! 

He concluded his remarks with the very appropriate comment you may feel old but youth is a state of mind'. A formal vote of thanks was given by Dr James McLachlan.

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