After World War Two Stockbridge town's general practitioner was Dr 'Pix' Loveless He was the third generation of his family to practise in Stockbridge. In 1951, three years after the beginning of the National Health Service, Dr Michael Johnson joined him. Dr Johnson still lives in Stockbridge today, and has seen the development of medical services in the Test Valley over the past 50 years.
During the 1950s and early 1960s Stockbridge changed relatively little from the pre-war era. Few patients had cars or telephones and therefore home visits were common. Housing conditions were often primitive. Dr Johnson recalls climbing a ladder to the cottage bedroom of a man who turned out to have a perforated peptic ulcer. As a junior partner, Dr Johnson took all of the night calls. Although at that time few patients called the doctor out unless they were genuinely ill, he would be out at least once a week.
The practice was based in a surgery in Dr Loveless' home, Grosvenor Cottage, now called Mulberry House. Entry was by a gate in the wall and the waiting room seated about 8 - 10 people with standing room for another two or three. The rest had to wait outside in all weathers. There were no appointments. It was first come, first served, but everyone was attended to. The adjoining consulting room had paper thin walls and one could almost hear what was going on! A paraffin stove provided the only warmth in the waiting room. Dr Loveless is also remembered for his kindness. Chocolate was precious in wartime and Dr Loveless was known to promise some patients a bar of chocolate if they did not scratch their spots. The bribe worked for all but a very few spots!
In the 1950s there were about 4,000 patients on the list and they were seen by the two doctors, with help from a secretary and four district nurses, one each in Stockbridge, Chilbolton, King's Somborne and the Wallops. These nurses were very experienced and performed some home deliveries, only calling for a doctor if there were any difficulties. Outlying surgeries were held twice a week in the Wallops, King's Somborne and Chilbolton. The main hospital for referrals was the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester and the consultants there provided excellent support throughout.
In 1961 Dr Loveless retired and Dr Chris Bennett joined the practice. The surgery moved to Dr Johnson's home, Seven Gables, and two part-time receptionists were employed as well as a secretary. Increasingly patients came by appointment. By the late 1970s a health centre was being promised by health authorities and in the early 1980s land had been purchased in New Street, then still little better than a dirt road. At this stage Dr Johnson retired and Dr Gareth Evans replaced him but the practice continued to use Dr Johnson's house as a surgery because there were delays in funding the proposed health centre.
Eventually, in 1984, money was found and the development in New Street went ahead. Drs Evans and Bennett moved into the premises the following year. In 1985, Dr Bennett retired and Dr Paul Manchett arrived.
Dr Lyndsay and Dr Parr had a Practice in the nearby village of Broughton. In 1986, Dr Lyndsay retired and the Stockbridge and Broughton Practices merged. The present configuration of health services was established.
In 1987, Dr Adrian Townsend and Dr David Simpson joined the Practice. At this juncture Dr Robert Parr retired. The four-doctor Practice continued to develop with extensions to the Stockbridge Surgery.
In 1988, following 6 months operating from a PortaKabin, a new Surgery was built in Broughton which has also since been extended.
At the end of March 2011, the long serving Partnership of Drs Evans, Manchett, Townsend and Simpson came to an end with the retirement of Dr Gareth Evans. In April 2011 Dr Paul Manchett became the Senior Partner. The Practice expanded its Partnership to 5 doctors, welcoming on board Dr Natalie Avery and Dr Edward Gibbons. They were joined in January 2012 by Dr Claire Walsh. Dr Julia Snyder then joined us as a salaried GP and Dr Tim Wilson from New Zealand joined us as our second salaried GP in June 2016.
On April 1st 2016, Dr Paul Manchett and Dr David Simpson retired and we welcomed as a new Partner, Dr Bridget Pemberton who had previously been with us as a retained GP.
The most recent change to the members of the partnership came on 31 March 2017 when long standing partner Dr Adrian Townsend departed. He was with the surgery for well in excess of 20 years and he will be missed by staff and patients alike.
As a Training Practice we not only have GP Registrars with us to complete their GP training but we also host other medical students as part of their overall training programme before they decide which discipline to pursue in their medical career.
Ref: A Portrait of Stockbridge by Hugh Saxton - with his kind permission