Born: September 13, 1923; Died: August 24, 2012.
Janet Henderson, who has died aged 88, was one half of a medical double-act that revolutionised GP services in the Highlands
Along with her husband, she helped to establish Grantown Health Centre – the first health centre attached to a community hospital – and trained scores of young doctors in general practice.
Described as a good old-fashioned family doctor, she was a woman who relished her work and believed that the traditional house visits were a vital part of her job.
Born in Edinburgh but raised in London, she was the granddaughter of a GP and the daughter of a Medical Officer of Health, Andrew Forrest, and his wife Mary. She grew up near Wandsworth Prison before moving to Leytonstone and was later evacuated to Dollar, in World War II, where she had relatives.
Educated at Woodford High School for Girls in Essex, she returned to Edinburgh in 1941 to study medicine at Edinburgh University. That same year she met her future husband Lindsay, a fellow student, during an air- raid practice.
They both graduated in 1946 and she began her career with house jobs in medicine at the Northern General and in obstetrics at the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity hospitals in Edinburgh.
As a newly-qualified doctor she also visited tenements in the closes off Edinburgh's Royal Mile, treating children and families too poor to pay for treatment. She went on to do an internship in Kingston, Ontario while Lindsay completed his national service with the parachute regiment in Germany. They married in September 1949.
They set up home in Haddington where she trained as a GP – one of the first trainees in the National Health Service – then moved to Inverness until Lindsay got a partnership with Croydon doctor.
By 1955 the couple had two daughters and planned to emigrate to Canada. But they spotted an advert in The Lancet for a post in Grantown-on-Spey. Lindsay successfully applied and they moved north. Two years later his wife, always known as Dr Janet, joined the practice.
The couple, who had a son in 1959, worked the surgery at their home between them, taking only Thursday afternoons off. In 1972 they merged with another practice and, with a third doctor, were instrumental in building the innovative Grantown Health Centre as an annexe to the local hospital, one of the first such centres in the Highlands.
When Dr Janet first arrived in Strathspey there were few incomers and, as a result, she was able to build up a detailed knowledge of her patients, their local extended families and their history.
Her house visits were a means of truly understanding her patients' domestic circumstances.
While she had once considered going into obstetrics after completing her internship in Canada, she contented herself with delivering babies at Grantown's Ian Charles Cottage Hospital, where she fought hard to retain maternity facility. In 1977 she took on a different role, as regional advisor for general practice in the Highlands.
Based at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, it was a post that utilised her famed organisational skills as she planned training courses for GPs through the north. She remained in the role until 1983 and retired a couple of years later.
Dr Peter Grant, trained by Dr Janet and her husband, said they were real innovators within General Practice in the Highlands, while staunchly upholding traditional values of individual patient care.
"Their initiative has been both envied and imitated elsewhere, and the model provided a prototype for the 'one-stop' diagnosis and treatment centres that health-care planners still aspire to provide.
"At a time when female GPs were a small minority, Janet distinguished herself amongst that pioneering group as the first regional advisor in General Practice, and her leadership launched a generation of young doctors on their careers in General Practice."
From her Raigmore Hospital base, she provided support, counsel, and inspiration to those in training throughout the Highlands and Islands, he said, and at her home at Mount Barker she mothered those training in Grantown-on-Spey.
"Janet was highly sociable, and regarded her colleagues, as her patients, with an affection that was real, and that was reciprocated," Dr Grant added.
A vivacious, energetic woman, outside work she enjoyed skiing, sailing and travel and in retirement developed a talent for painting watercolours of flowers.
She was a strong supporter of her local community: she had been medical officer for Grantown's Red Cross; chaired the local Girl Guide committee; was vice-president of local drama group The Clachan Players; served the Blood Transfusion Service; and was on the Highland Hospice committee
In the 1970s she chaired the Moray and Nairn Children's Advisory Panel and was a member of Lord Dunpark's committee looking at whether criminals should pay compensation to their victims
She and Lindsay spent 21 years of their retirement together in Nethybridge before moving back to Grantown to sheltered housing.Widowed in 2009, she suffered a stroke last year and is survived by her children Gillian, Fiona and Peter and five grandchildren.
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