Denbridge Surgery, the Building and the People
Note by Dr Robin Drysdale in 2014
Denbridge has not always been a doctor’s surgery.
The original sandstone building was erected in the 1860’s as part of the development which followed the arrival of the railway at the ‘Bear’s Den’. From the start Denbridge had been built as two separate flats, the upstairs flat, Number 96A having its own driveway and garden, with its own main-door entrance on the north side of the building. Internally 96A has a fine stone entrance stair with iron bannister. The two flats are said to have been built by a man for his two daughters.
The lower flat first came into use as a surgery in about 1946 when it was bought by Dr John Barr whose junior partner was Dr Richard (or Dick) Massey.
At that time another Bearsden practice was that of Dr Laurence Reid, whose junior partner was Dr John (or Jackie) Brown. They had a surgery in Dr Reid’s house, called ‘Lonsdale’ at 98 Drymen Road, next door to the present surgery. In truth ‘Lonsdale’ belonged to Mrs Reid who was the daughter of Dr Reid’s erstwhile senior partner, Dr Wood.
Dr Brown had joined Dr Reid shortly after the second world war, where he had been awarded an MC during the Italian campaign.
Sometime after Dr Brown’s arrival Dr Barr and Dr Massey invited Dr Reid and Dr Brown to join them in the ownership of the lower flat at Denbridge. The two practices remained separate as they have done even to the present day. At that time each practice had a waiting room, Dr Barr’s was the dining room, and Dr Reid’s the main front room with bay window. Each practice had one consulting room at the rear of the building. The kitchen/living room and rear box-room were occupied by a ‘couple’, as caretakers, but they took no part in the running of the practice.
The ‘New Contract’ of 1966 enabled GPs to employ some secretarial and reception staff. Prior to that the doctors wives had to stay at home 24/7 to answer the phone, unless they made special arrangements. The junior partner in each practice would cover one night a week plus every second Friday night and every fourth weekend, Saturday morning to Monday evening, in additional to the normal week’s work.
By 1973 Dr Robin Willett had taken the place of Dr Reid, and Dr Robin Drysdale joined Dr Brown and Dr Willett as a third partner. Also Dr Gordon McGregor-Roberstson had taken the place of Dr Barr. At that time both practices used the dining room as a waiting room, the big front room was a general office. The rear kitchen/living room was used for storing the Lloyd George envelopes and as a reception office, the ‘couple’ no longer being in residence.
In 1973 the five doctors worked out of two consulting rooms. This required much sharing and great patience. At that time most GPs did a prodigious number of house visits each day, twenty visits in the day being not unusual. The appointment system was only newly established. Prior to that all surgeries were ‘open’, ending only when the last patient had been seen, often as late as 10 p.m., after which the doctor did any evening house visits.
In 1982 a two-roomed extension was built on the south side of the original surgery. This meant that there were four consulting rooms. One of the new rooms was used as a treatment room on weekday mornings, staffed by a practice nurse employed jointly by the two practices.
Dr Massey retired in 1985, and his place was taken by Dr Kenneth McGregor. In 1983 Dr Raymond Walker replaced Dr Brown.
Dr McGregor-Robertson retired in 1989, and his post was filled jointly by Dr Anna Kaye and Dr Pauline Stewart. Dr Willett retired in 1991 and Dr Alison Blair joined Dr Drysdale and Doctor Walker’s practice in January 1992.
The winter of 1995-96 saw a major development with the demolition of the 1982 extension and the building of the present two-storey surgery. The doctors are still grateful to all the patients and staff who showed great patience and tolerance during the building work. The Practice Manager, Margaret Lindsay and her staff survived a cold winter in a portacabin on the front lawn. The new surgery had a big new open-plan waiting room and reception area, no less than eight consulting rooms, and a meeting room/staff coffee room.
The new building was opened on 30th August 1996 by Mr Sam Galbraith, at that time our local Westminster MP, and former consultant neurosurgeon. The increased accommodation allowed for the employment of many more practice nurses and a phlebotomist. It also allowed space for the training of medical students and GP Trainees, and the installation of a modern GP computer system.
The late 1990s saw great changes for both patients and doctors with the introduction of the Glasgow Emergency Medical Service. This took over the out of hours emergency work for the GPs at nights and weekends, and this was formalised in the ‘New Contract’ of 2004.
Dr Kaye left her practice due to a family move south in the year 2000, and her place was taken by Dr Katherine Shaw. However Dr Shaw left the practice also due to a move south in 2005. Her place was taken by Dr Tina Boyle who had previously worked on the GP Retainer Scheme in Dr Drysdale’s practice.
Dr Tracey Secrett joined Dr Drysdale’s practice in 2008 prior to his planned retiral in 2009, and in turn Dr Walker, Blair and Secrett were joined by Dr Laura Coombs in 2011. In 2013 Dr McGregor retired and his place was taken by Dr Guy Pilsworth.
In 2014 the surgery had a radical refurbishment to bring it up to modern clinical standards, and to comply with access requirements for the disabled. Internal re-arrangement resulted in improved office space and yet another consulting room.
And so it came about that, after starting as the lower flat in a Victorian villa, the surgery has developed, over the last 70 years, into a modern medical facility. We have extensive and up to date accommodation, the doctors are supported by well trained administrative and healthcare staff, together with modern healthcare information technology.
The building has changed over the years. The doctors have changed as their numbers have increased. Denbridge now has more female than male doctors, and there is an active programme for GPs in training. The two practices in Denbridge work together more closely than ever, but still as two separate partnerships.