IT’s the sort of personal care from a family doctor that belongs to another era.
Faced with a patient dying from a rare condition, GP Kate MacGregor went out of her way to help – calling in on her days off, providing her personal phone number and even getting in touch while on holiday abroad.
Now that dedication towards patient Mary MacLennan has seen Dr MacGregor named as Scotland’s GP of the Year.
Mrs MacLennan’s family said they will never forget everything Dr MacGregor did for them, as she helped look after Mary who had rare disease Multiple System Atrophy.
The family, from Connel in Argyll and Bute, said the disease was so uncommon that few doctors knew what to do.
Undeterred, Dr MacGregor took it upon herself to read up on the disease to best understand how to help her patient.
And, as Mary’s health deteriorated, the caring medic stepped in to ensure the grandmother could be cared for at home for as long as possible.
This saved her and her family arduous, seven-hour round-trips to hospital.
Mary sadly died aged 54 in July last year.
But hers son David, 29, said: “Dr MacGregor was there whenever we called.
“She’s also been there to support the family after mum died.
“She’s always there to talk to and lifts our spirits. She has a heart of gold.”
Despite being in the midst of their grief, Mary’s family contacted the Royal College of General Practitioners to nominate Dr MacGregor for GP of the Year.
In an emotional letter, Mary’s partner Billy Ferguson, 64, said she should be held up as an example of the difference “a GP can make to patients and their families at what can be the bleakest point of their lives”.
And the judges agreed as they named Dr MacGregor, who works in the remote rural Taynuilt Medical Practice in Argyll and Bute, as this year’s GP of the Year.
MSA is a neurological disorder caused by degeneration of nerve cells in several areas of the brain.
This can result in problems with movement, balance and autonomic functions of the body such as blood pressure.
It affects just five people per 100,000, meaning doctors rarely come across it.
Mary was diagnosed in 2014.
By the time she died, she was unable to speak, walk, swallow or care for herself and suffered significant levels of pain.
The family, including Mary’s daughter Eilidh, 27, said the rarity of MSA meant no one really knew how to help and support them.
The neurological care Mary required was provided by specialists at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow.
But as her condition deteriorated she was not able to make the journey.
Dr MacGregor stepped in and researched the condition as much as she could, including contacting charity the Multiple System Atrophy Trust for assistance.
She then pulled together a health care team to care for Mary in her home, meaning she spent most of the end of her life at home before passing away peacefully at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
The Multiple System Atrophy Trust is the UK’s leading charity supporting people affected by the disease.
Its CEO Karen Walker said: “I’m delighted that Dr MacGregor received this award.
“I understand the family were really touched by how hard she worked to understand the condition.
“It’s lovely to see that being acknowledged.”
Dr Miles Mack, Chair of RCGP Scotland, said 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”.
He said: “Dr Kate MacGregor makes me proud to be a GP.”