History of the Practice

A History of Primary Care & Frimley Green Medical Centre


Before the NHS

At this stage, Primary Care is nearly all single-handed doctors. Fees are charged for seeing the doctor, although there are government payment schemes for the less well off. These were pioneered by Lloyd-George after the First World War – the small brown packet for patient health records that remains a familiar sight today is still called the Lloyd-George record.

1945, Dr Sam Bartlett, a General Practitioner from the Outer Hebrides, purchases a practice at Northland’s House in Ash Vale from Dr Sophian. Dr Bartlett originally trained as a master mariner before his medical training. He works from the front room of Northlands, seeing patients from as far afield as Guildford and Woking.

1946, He is joined by his son Gregor, after his military service in South Africa.

1947, Dr Alaistair McCall joins as the partner responsible for the Pirbright area.

1948, General Practice arrives in Frimley Green with the opening of a branch surgery. Initially this is in the house “Orchard Leigh” in Beech Road, later in rented rooms at 222 Frimley Green Road.


The Early NHS

Although now free of charge, General Practice in the early days of the NHS would be unrecognizable today. Most GP’s are still working alone, usually in rooms in their own home. There are minimal support staff – the receptionist / secretary is normally the doctor’s wife. There are no appointments. The doors open at 9am and are closed at 10am. The morning is spent working through those who have arrived. The same in the late afternoon. Few patients have phones or cars and many consultations take place at home.

1952, Another son, Dr Calum Bartlett, joins the partnership and develops the Practice in Frimley Green.

1953, He is working from the front room of his home on the Green – Elm Cottage. The waiting room is wooden extension built onto the side of the house.

1956, The first member of staff is employed (a receptionist).

1958, The first nurse is employed.The Established NHS

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Primary Care starts to develop down the lines that are familiar today. Populations and practices grow so that fewer doctors are working alone. New buildings appear replacing the surgeries in the Doctor’s front room. Organization is improved so that more additional staff are employed. Appointment systems are introduced. Patients are more affluent and more mobile – fewer home visits are required.

1960’s, Increasing urbanization of the Frimley Green and Ash Vale area makes expansion of the practice inevitable. Six doctors join the partnership and by the mid 1960’s, there a two full-time doctors at Frimley Green, looking after 6,500 patients.

1967, The practice moves into new purpose-made buildings – now Elm Cottage Vetinary Centre. The local cottage hospitals in Farnham and Frimley (now Frimley Children’s Centre) are starting to feel the strain of the increasing population and in

1974, Frimley Park Hospital opens.


The Modern NHS

During the 1980’s and 1990’s there are many organizational reforms in Primary Care – a new contract for GP’s that structures the immunization and smear programmes. Radical changes like fundholding arrive and then are superseded. Computerization becomes important and General Practice leads the way in the NHS for embracing the new technology.

1980, Ash Vale Health Centre is built by the District Health Authority, allowing relief from the cramped conditions at Northlands Surgery.

1981, The practice becomes involved in the new standardized training programmes for GP’s with one Trainee working in each surgery.

1984, The partnership has expanded to 11 Doctors.

1986, Frimley Green Medical Centre is built – this allows attached staff (District Nurses and Health Visitors) to share premises with the practice.

1989, The first computer system is installed, mainly to generate printed prescriptions.

1994, A new computer system is installed with a landline link to Ash Vale Health Centre, allowing the use of the computer in consultations.

1995, A computer link to Health Authority allows electronic registration of new patients and claims.

1997, A computer link to Frimley Park Hospital allows test results to be sent electronically.

1998, Hospital clinic letters are scanned into the computer record, allowing the practice to become properly “paperless”.

1999, The new extension is finished, greatly improving our treatment rooms and finally giving us as many consulting rooms as there are doctors !

2014. Electronic online booking of appointments and ordering of repeat prescriptions arrives