GP of the Year came to dying woman's rescue

A doctor from a remote rural practice has been crowned Scotland's GP of the year after being nominated by the family of a patient who suffered with a rare condition.

Kate MacGregor from Taynuilt, Argyll, was nominated for the GP of the Year award by the family of Mary MacLennan
Kate MacGregor from Taynuilt, Argyll, was nominated for the GP of the Year award by the family of Mary MacLennan

Dr Kate MacGregor, from Taynuilt Medical Practice in Argyll and Bute worked tirelessly to help local woman Mary MacLennan who died last year as a result of Multiple System Atrophy.

The GP made sure Mary, 54, received the care she required at home, avoiding difficult seven-hour round trips to hospital in Glasgow. Dr MacGregor offered her personal mobile number to the patient and checked on Mary and her family while she was abroad.

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Dr Miles Mack, chair of the Royal College of GPs Scotland, said: “Dr Kate MacGregor makes me proud to be a GP. The way she has taken on the difficulties blocking good care for her patients is a great example of the lifelong care GPs give families as a whole. Realising that her options from the wider healthcare system were going to be limited for this patient, because of their location, Dr MacGregor showed real gumption, took matters into her own hands and allowed her patient to receive continuous, trusted care beyond what seemed to be possible. ”

Multiple System Atrophy is a disease of the nervous system that leads to premature death. It results in parts of the brain and spinal cord gradually becoming more damaged over time. It also causes a gradual loss of brain cells from the autonomic nervous system – the nervous system in charge of automatic functions like breathing and bladder control.

Mary’s partner, Billy Ferguson, nominated MacGregor for the award for the “exceptional care and compassion she showed”.

He said: “Mary was diagnosed three years ago with Multiple System Atrophy. This rare condition took away her dignity and by the time she passed away she was unable to speak, walk, swallow or care for herself.

“She suffered pain and stated she would rather die at home than be admitted to the hospital where she felt isolated and vulnerable.”

He added: “At that stage Dr MacGregor came to our rescue and did her very best to ensure that I was supported and that my partner was cared for to the best of her ability.

“Dr MacGregor frequently called in, even on her days off, and provided her personal phone number to ensure that if there was the need for palliative care that she would do this herself rather than me having to explain the complexity of MSA, which is a rare condition, and the intensive care specialist in Glasgow said that he had only seen once in his career.”

MacGregor said: “I’m delighted to receive the award – it’s a great accolade for myself and our specific practice.

“And it means so much more when it’s a nomination from a patient. I’ve been a GP for 25 years now and I still love my job.

“I love the unique role which is a pivotal one we have as GPs in being able to assist people in their greatest times of need.

“That’s a positive that I really want to get over because there are so many negatives around general practice at the moment that put people off coming into the job. It really is a very fulfilling role that we have and I certainly would encourage others to take that role on.”