History of the Department of General Practice QUB

 

  The department of General Practice was established at Queens University in 1971, the fifth to be created in the United Kingdom. The department occupies the fourth floor of the purpose built Dunluce Health Centre and plays a major role in medical education in the first, second, fourth and final undergraduate years. The department has an extensive research programme and provides a range of postgraduate courses for general practitioners.

Professor George Irwin

The Early Years

The department was established at Queens University in 1971 with Professor George Irwin as Foundation professor and Head of an autonomous Department of General Practice. By 1979 the department had moved into the fourth floor of the purpose built Dunluce Health Centre. Equipped with Closed Circuit Television and two-way mirror facilities in the consulting rooms, the department and associated tutors pioneered the use of this technology in the teaching of communication and consulting skills to medical students. The department plays a major role in medical education and is involved in teaching in the first, second, fourth and final undergraduate years. The department has an extensive research programme and provides a range of postgraduate courses for general practitioners.

The Department was the fifth to be created in the United Kingdom and started life in cramped academic accommodation at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. Professor Irwin retained his clinical connection as a NHS GP Principal with the partnership he had helped to create in 1952. At the inception of the academic department funding was provided almost entirely from outside sources. A lectureship and one clerical post were made available.

On the first of April 1979 a new academic career structure in general practice in Northern Ireland was implemented. Dunluce Health Centre, situated adjacent to the Belfast City Hospital, was planned in the 1970s as a purpose-built teaching health centre, and opened its doors to patients on the first of January 1980. It housed four NHS GP partnerships. The medical academic staff of the Department of General Practice were integrated part-time into these practices to maintain clinical experience and to promote teaching and research in primary care.

By the time Professor Irwin had retired, at the end of August 1990, clinical, teaching and research facilities had been greatly strengthened and a well balanced and respected department had been created with much enhanced funding. General Practice has been developed in a short space of time into a core clinical department of the Medical School.