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Green Templeton College | Oxford

PritchardPeter Pritchard in 1943

We were saddened to hear recently of the passing of Doctor Peter Pritchard on 1st January 2018. Peter was a general practitioner who started his career just before the NHS was founded; his memoir, An Eventful Life, tells the story of a remarkable man who was professionally active to the end of his days.

The son of Major Jack Pritchard – the first Europe to America aeronaut – Peter was himself born in the middle of a Zeppelin raid on 19th May 1918. After qualifying in 1942, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was posted to India and Burma as part of General Wingate’s 778 Brigade. His column landed by glider miles behind enemy lines, and evacuated wounded men on horseback or stretcher over miles of hilly terrain in monsoon rain. All Peter’s patients survived, and he was mentioned in despatches and promoted to Major.

After demobilisation, Peter worked in paediatrics at University College Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he was attached to the children’s heart unit.

He developed a machine to facilitate the taking of rapid serial x-rays of the heart, using US war surplus aerial survey cameras.

He entered general practice in 1951 in Dorchester on Thames, later moving to the village of Berinsfield.

In 1972, Peter set up the first ever patient participation group, involving not only patients but influential figures in the local community. They were asked to help develop the practice and to deal with complaints as well as interview new staff. This was not popular with the Royal College of General Practitioners so Pritchard resigned his membership. It was not until 2015 that patient participation groups became mandatory for all GP practices in England.

In 1979, Peter retired and began a new phase in his career as a medical writer and teacher. He published widely on patient participation, the application of IT to primary care, on management in general practice, and on shared care and team work in primary care. He also wrote a manual of primary healthcare.

He founded the UK-Nordic Medical Educational Trust and in 1995 was awarded the George Abercrombie medal by the RCGP, which also honoured him with a commendation for his outstanding contributions to general practice and primary care in 2017.

Pritchard was heavily involved in the local community and in 1995 he founded the Hurst Water Meadow Trust which has bought and restored 23 acres of water meadow on the banks of the Thames. For this he was appointed BEM in 2012.

Peter was a Visiting Fellow at GTC from October 1985 until October 1987, and a Common Room Member from January 1987 until July 2007. By all accounts, he enjoyed his association with the College, bringing his family in for lunch in the Observatory from time to time, and GTC is proud to have been a part of the life of such an unconventional and influential man.

Peter is survived by his wife, Daphne, and their three children.