Medical practice

These retired GPs, Diana Scott, Bill Couldrick and Alan Wagner remember family doctoring in the 60s and 70s

Amy Smith was the last GP’s receptionist to work in the Harwell Surgery. Amy has a fascinating story to tell including the strange way she was recruited.

Dr Alexander Armitage Beazeley was born in 1904. His mother was left bringing up seven children, one disabled, on her own and they lived on the Clapham Road in straitened circumstances, AAB won a scholarship to St Pauls and later went to study medicine at the London Hospital, Whitechapel.  His experience during a Diphtheria epidemic moved him greatly.

Unfortunately he ran out of savings and had to give up his medical studies for a while. He worked as an assistant at a fashionable London osteopaths on Park Lane for a while, to build up enough savings to continue. He once had to run after the Queen of Spain’s carriage with a brown paper parcel containing her stays which she’d left behind after a consultation! He also won a reward after stopping a jewel thief in the Burlington Arcade.  He merely stuck out a foot and tripped the thief up and sat on him until help arrived.

He was able to resume his medical studies at Guys Hospital where he worked with Hector Cameron and Ronnie McKeith who were pioneers in paediatrics. His memory of the needless deaths he witnessed when working in Whitechapel made him a champion of vaccination and child health.

In answer to Amy Smith’s recollections of the pharmacy, dangerous drugs such as morphine for cancer patients etc were ordered, looked after and dispensed by him. In 1955 he ordered 10 ampoules of morphine for a dying cancer patient and was accidentally sent 100 ampoules. He was furious about the supplier’s administrative mistake but a day later there was a terrible rail crash outside Didcot and he used almost every single extra ampoule on trapped and injured passengers who were in agony. He was not a religious man at all but said if his lack of faith ever wavered, it was that day because he was able to help so many people.