Betty’s farewell after 35 years’ service

Betty Simpson with doctors from the Ballater clinic past and present
Betty Simpson with doctors from the Ballater clinic past and present

Ballater Clinic’s practice manager has retired after 35 years’ service to the community.

Colleagues past and present, along with friends, gathered at the centre last Thursday to honour Betty Simpson and present her with a farewell gift.

When Betty joined the Ballater clinic staff in 1982, community health provision was very different.

The doctors at the time were Peter Crawford and Mary Taylor, with few ancillary staff.

There was a morning clinic between 9 and 10, and two evening clinics a week with Peter at Craig Megan, his home.

There was no appointment system, and patients queued in the waiting room which buzzed with chat as everyone shared ailments and gossip.

The clinic served communities within a 10-mile radius of Ballater and there was a patient list of around 800.

In 1990, Betty remembers the delivery of two large boxes – the age of the computer had arrived.

Gradually, everything became computerised, a steep learning curve for many, indeed she herself had to learn on the job.

Eventually she had to hide the paperwork to ensure everyone became computer literate and that information was input directly.

The staff structure changed too with many more specialist clinics and nurses serving the community.

They included diabetic, Wellwoman, asthma and related disciplines all catering locally to the changing face of the health service and the needs of the community.

The days of the district nurse who did everything were long past.

Betty said: “There was never one morning that I got up and not looked forward to the day ahead.

“I was very privileged to work there and share the good and bad times with everyone.

“I would say my hardest challenge - and achievement - was getting Dr Doug Glass to use the computer.”

She added that she wished her successor, Marie Mitchell, all the best in her new post.

The clinic’s Dr Ewen McLeod, who worked with Betty for 25 years, said she would be greatly missed by staff and patients.

He added: “It’s a remarkable length of service and what she has done over the years is above and beyond the call of duty.

“However, Betty will still be around in the community in which she is extremely active.”