Dr Gwyn Parry




Memories of Dr Gwyn Parry. House Surgeon at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. 1952-1953

There I was in 1952 with a degree in Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a  smattering knowledge of Orthopaedics, Pathology, Forensic  Medicine, Anaesthetics, ENT, Dermatology, Paediatrics, Therapeutics and Pharmacology, Public Health. In 1952 no other experience was required of you. You were on your own, but what I needed was experience and confidence.

Now my girl friend was in the Rhyl area, a qualified teacher for the Blind. She had a flat in town and was travelling all over the Clwyd area by public transport and reporting to the RNIB in Liverpool.

The main hospital in the Clwyd area was the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Rhyl (The Alex) but for Obstetrics and Gynaecology a new unit had been opened  at the old Work House of the H.M.Stanley (after the Stanley and Livingstone fame). Now of course there is the magnificent Bodelwyddan Hospital to cover the Clwyd area.

I was very friendly with Dr. E. Gerald Evans, the Home Office Pathologist and Consultant Pathologist at the C and A Hospital Bangor. Since deciding to study Medicine I used to work in the Pathology Laboratory at the C and A mostly doing blood counts but also attending autopsies (the best way to learn Pathology) Who best to ask for help than Gerald and he immediately contacted a Mr. Ivor Lewis - interview - start Monday. I never even had a holiday after my exams.

There is no need to say more about Mr. Ivor lewis. So much has been written about his surgical skills and how he decided to return to Wales from a world renowned post at the North Middlesex Hospital London.

The Surgical side at the Alex consisted of 60 beds and the team consisted of Mr. Ivor Lewis, Nick Hamilton (Australia) Surgical Registrar and a few clinical assistants - G.P.s who would help out - I remember a Dr. Babbington - a charming fellow, also the anaesthetists - Mr. Lewis's wife, Dr. Nancie Faux, very capable and very quiet and very nice, another anaesthetist - a G.P. and an Indian who Nick Hamilton would tease no end.

The contact between the theatre staff and the houseman was courteous and distant. They all did their job and had great respect for Mr. Lewis.

My duties were to examine the new patients that came in, take blood samples for the Laboratory, order blood, having cross matched if necessary for the surgery, organise any X Rays needed then check the results as they came in and finally check that the patient was ready for surgery. Also, of course I had to be in theatre assisting - mostly holding retractors for Mr. Lewis and Mr. Hamilton. We all worked as a team, the Consultant, the Surgical Registrar, the House Surgeon (me), the Surgical Secretary (Sally - a beautiful, charming girl) and of course the Sisters and Staff on the surgical wards

Post operative care was needed to get the patient mobile. There must have been physiotherapists but I cannot remember any.

Setting up I.V. drips was much more complicated than they are now. If you could not find an arm or wrist vein you had to 'cut down' medially by the Achilles Tendon in the ankle, this was done in the ward. They would not call out the laboratory technician in the middle of the night so the houseman had to do any blood cross matching in an emergency. This was an irresponsible request and dangerous but everything turned out OK.

I also remember Nick Hamilton doing an emergency tracheotomy on the ward- what for???  Mr. Lewis would do ward rounds - a Surgical Registrar, a Surgical House Resident (me), the Ward Sister and Surgical Secretary. All very formal and various problems and care of the patients would be discussed

Regarding the Ward Sister - I got on very well with one but not very well with the other so I kept well clear of her if I could.

Then in The Alex there were otherConsultants, Senior Physician Dr Meredith, Physician Dr. Lloyd, Pathologist Dr. Alban Lloyd, a Dr. Williams Radiologist, I cannot remember Orthopaedic Surgeons
or ENT surgeons, maybe there were units elsewhere. Of course I was the mostjunior of juniors I can never remember any one of them taking any notice of me such was their superiority complex.

The Royal Alex 1952-53 had nosocial life or activity. There must have been a Matron but my memory fails me.I cannot remember any 'outsiders' like Social Workers but the odd Minister of Religion would come in.

A little bit about the House Physician. The Consultant Physicians had great respect for him. he was Polish and had escaped from the Nazis and the Russians during the war.  He was a bit of a loner and he would annoy me by leaving the Radio on loud preventing my sleep after a heavy day in the Theatre. I would barge into his room only to find him fast asleep with the radio on some foreign programme. I think that when I was at St. Asaph doing Obs and Gynae that I heard that he had been found dead in his bed. There was some casualties shared between House Physician and the House Surgeon. The Casualty Department was very small and lacked facilities. Demand was not great, nothing like what the A/E is today. Maybe the G.P's in 1952-53 did more then.

The hours of work in The Alex was unrelenting. I well remember going to the Theatre at 9am and listening to the Irish Mail Train passing at 2am the next day and being still in Theatre.

Friday was supposed to be my half day  and I would be at my girl friends flat when a phone call would come telling me to return to the hospital as an emergency had come in. Off I would go back on my bicycle.

it was in The Alex that I had my first pay cheque -£16:00 for a month, residency, laundry and meals had been deducted.

My introduction to Medicine was coming to an end. I knew the newly appointed consultant on Obs and Gynae - Mr.E. Parry-Jones from my student days in Liverpool. My girl friend was still in Rhyl so I wanted to stay in the area so I asked him if I could have a job and so I became the first resident in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the newly founded department at the H.M.Stanley St. Asaph. it was then that we married and a flat had been arranged for us at the Main Building, so our first home was in the Workhouse. A very happy time was to follow.

And so I left the Alex. The one main thing The Alex gave me was experience and confidence and the only thing I gave The Alex was blooming hard work. Remember this was 1953.