Peter Smith

History of The Alex Path Lab.

               Peter Smith was originally from Manchester and was appointed to the path lab on 22.06.53. He still has the letter confirming his interest in the post from the then chairman of the Hospital Management Committee, Mr William Roberts.

               The laboratory was located in the old laundry, which was at the rear of the building behind the old boiler house and alongside Grosvenor Road. The mortuary was located in the old bathhouse which was beneath the chapel. The facility was staffed by the porters on a rotation basis. The new mortuary was built in 1957 and was between the path lab and the Edith Vizard nurse's home (later the Renal
Unit).

               In 1953, with Peter's appointment, the entire technical staff numbered eight. The pathologist was J T Alban-Lloyd, John Tim to his friends, though never lessthan "Dr Alban-Lloyd" to most. A charming avuncular man who seemed ancient to the student staff but was probably all of? in 1970! Dr Lloyd's secretary was Mrs Pat Davies. The biochemist was Mr Walter Portwood who came from?. His technician was Fred Barnes assisted by a junior technician. Bacteriology was run by Mr Ellis Shepherd, an Oldham lad, to whom Peter was assigned on appointment. Haematology was a two man show with a senior and junior technicians (??). The histology technician was Mr George Tushingham.

               At this time, pathology and especially the science of medicine (or Bio-medical Science as it is now known) was in it's infancy. The bewildering array of tests that we know take for granted were unheard of, to say nothing of the machinery from then compared to the analysers we now need to meet demand.

               Peter's initial memories of his early days in the laboratory were of the Medical Research Council's trial.

            Peter was assigned to the Bacteriology laboratory who were involved in the trials to find effective agents against the tubercule bacillus. TB at the time and especially in the previous 20 or 30 years was a massive public health issue. The discovery of the causative organism and the subsequent discovery of effective anti-microbial therapy needed trials and this was a nationwide scheme to help treat what was a scourge of public health.

               In 1957, Peter remembers the DHSS report that highlighted the fact that lab staff were three times more likely to contract TB, with some trepidation, but was relieved when his examination paper had a question on the incidence of laboratory aquired infection!

               In 1960, Dr Alban Lloyd's persistent bad back was diagnosed as renal TB and he was in Llangwyfan Sanatorium for the next six months. All laboratory staff were X-rayed and screened via the Mantoux skin test. The individual reactions to the Mantoux were spectacular and alarming but merely showed an increased immunitydue to their exposure to TB.

               In 1972, the hugely important publication (by DHSS) of the handbook "Safety in Pathology Laboratories" which also dealt with another important and emerging problem, that of Hepatitis in both pathology and Renal Unit staff. Health and Safety in laboratories began to take on a new significance-the band-wagon began to roll!

               Peter was appointed Senior Chief Technician in technical charge of the laboratory with particular responsibility for both training and safety. There were 30 technical staff by 1974. It is a matter of pride that Peter records only two members of staff with laboratory acquired infections. The man who did all the PMs, Dr Lloyd, got renal TB and the Senior Technician in Biochemistry got Hepatitis. Both fully recovered and continued to retirement. Another feather in Peter's cap was the positive response to the Hospital Management Committee's concerns that the expense of more sophisticated equipment was not reducing costs. Peter was able to prove that efficiency had, in fact, increased by 15%.In 1984 the number of investigations had increased by 38%. Services were transferred to YGC in 1980. By 1990 there was an increase of 300% which represented over one million analyses performed by 656 technical personnel