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Dr John McCrae

General Practitioner;

Born: October 26, 1915; Died: July 17, 2012.

John McCrae, who has died aged 96, was an outstanding leader of general practice in Ayrshire, where his practice was situated at Catrine, and throughout Scotland.

He qualified in medicine from Glasgow University in 1939 and emerged into a medical world that would be virtually unrecognisable today. He found a job as an assistant to Dr Allan in Catrine where the work involved general practice somewhat similar to today but including some surgery and dental extractions. Midwifery was also most definitely the business of the GP, with most deliveries taking place at home.

The Second World War started before Dr McCrae became really established and he joined the RAMC in 1940. He was sent to India and saw service in the General Hospital at Ranchi, Bihar. As Major McCrae, he was posted to Arakan in Burma where he provided medical support to Special Forces, and in 1944 was responsible for establishing a temporary hospital in Kamaing, in difficult circumstances, for the evacuation of casualties. He was awarded the MBE for his efforts on September 13, 1945.

He returned to Catrine soon after the end of the war and took over the practice on the retirement of Dr Allan. After he had established himself, he took an increasing role in medical affairs, locally and across Scotland.

He became chairman of the Scottish Council of the BMA and chairman of the National Medical Consultative Committee at a time of great change in the National Health Service. At the inception of the NHS, hospital services were run by regional committees; general practice, community pharmacy and optical services were run by local executive councils; and public health was in the control of local authorities.

All this changed in 1974 and Dr McCrae had a very significant involvement in developing the changes that led to the unification of the three branches of the NHS into health boards.

These changes have proved enduring in Scotland in marked difference to the English NHS which was reorganised on the same lines as the Scottish in 1973 but has been subject to changes every few years since then. He was awarded a CBE in 1976 in recognition of his services to medicine.

Locally, he was soon firmly in charge of the local British Medical Association and the local medical committee which represents the interests of general practitioners. He ruled this latter committee in a benignly autocratic manner.

He met and married Eileen Crane in 1942 while she was serving with Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. He retired from medical practice in 1979.

He was predeceased by Eileen and their eldest daughter Wendy. He is survived by his son Iain, his daughters Frances and Madeleine, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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