Practice Profile

History of The Practice

Tweeddale Medical practice takes its name from the Tweeddale buildings in Fort William High Street where it was situated for 28 years.  The origins of the practice go back to Dr Rankin who was a single-handed GP in the 1950’s, and then Dr Duncan MacDonald who took over in the 1960’s when Fort William became the subject of government inward investment with the building of a pulp & paper mill.  The practice expanded rapidly with the new workers and Dr Duncan MacDonald established the tradition of occupational medicine in the practice and recruited new partners.

The practice became a training practice in 1977 with Dr John MacAskill as the Trainer and Senior Partner.  He established the practice as a group practice working and soon after this, the current senior partner, Dr James Douglas, joined the practice as a trainee and later became a Partner in 1980.  Dr Alan Massie joined the practice in 1983, Dr Jane Munro in 1992 and Dr Craig McArthur in 1997.  The practice has grown, since 1979, to a current complement of 15 nursing and administrative staff.

Health Centre

Practice Mission Statement

We seek, in partnership with our patients, to maintain or improve their health through:

  • developing good relationships based on professionalism, trust, mutual respect and confidentiality.
  • striving to use up-to-date policies for patient care
  • encourage  healthy lifestyles
  • ensuring fair access to NHS resources in hospitals and the community, based on clinical need
  • continually updating our own knowledge and teaching the health professionals of the future
  • preserving the morale and motivation of the practice team


The Premises

In May 2007, the practice moved to the current premises in Fort William Health Centre.  Fort William Health Centre is a brand new purpose-built integrated health facility compromising three established medical practices and an array of community health and social work services. The building is situated next to Lochaber High School and enjoys open views to Ben Nevis , Carn Mor Dearg and the ski mountain of Aonach Mor.  It comprises 3 GP practices and a host of community and social-work services, including district nurses, health visitors, physiotherapy, dentists, community mental health team, chiropody, etc.  The 3 GP practices remain as separate entities but share some of the facilities, including a Minor Op Suite and a Venepuncture Room.  The practices also look towards closer working and sharing of information, such as protocols, etc.

Tweeddale Medical practice is housed on the ground floor of one wing of the health centre and comprises a large open plan waiting room, reception area, quiet room, admin and management area, nurse store, two treatment rooms and seven consulting rooms including one larger training room.  There is also a staff room and meeting room within the Tweeddale wing.  Further shared facilities within the building include a venepuncture room, minor op suite, conference room, library and further meeting rooms.  The building is equipped with a central dining area and to encourage exercise among staff there are bicycle racks and changing rooms including showers.

The main industries in the locality are tourism, fish farming and forestry work.  The tourism industry employs a large population of transient migrant workers.  Tourism can double the population in the summer from a base of around 13500. These tourists are attracted to the mountain scenery , ski resort facilities, historical sites, filming locations and the many other outdoor pursuits that the area has on offer including many large organised events such as the Scottish Six Day Trials,  World Mountain Bike Championship, the Ben Nevis Race and triathlon events.

Due to the presence of a local A+E department within a rural general hospital and a wealth of immediate care providers these events have little direct affect on the practice in terms of immediate care.  However, the practice does retain a responsibility for medical incident management in the event of a large scale incident.  Other than this, the practice provides medical assistance to the Ben Nevis race every year and two of the partners have run the race!

health check

Additional to Usual GP services

  • Police work from the 1970’s to current
  • Occupational Medicine to paper mill 33 years
  • Occupational Medicine to fish farming 10 years
  • Occupational Medicine to British Aluminium factory 5 years
  • Diving & Hyperbaric medicine the 1970’s years to 2017
  • Mountain Rescue 20 years
  • Pre Hospital /BASICS from 1980’s to current
  • GP obstetrics to 1997

Educational Innovations/Achievements

  • Training practice from the 1970’s to date (Dr McArthur current Educational Supervisor)
  • Rural Fellow placement practice 2006 to current
  • Undergraduate teaching practice 20 years to current
  • Associate Advisor 1994 -1999 & 2006 to present (Dr Douglas)
  • RCGP PEP CD item writer 2007
  • EBM course for registrars 2003-2005
  • Established Highland Schools Medical Mentor Scheme for RCGP in 1998
  • 20 years of service to GP Postgraduate Committee (Chair of committee 1992-95)
  • Video assessment of tutorials innovation 1992
  • First Highland local trainers group established 1981
  • Lochaber Medical Society established 1980
  • Previous palliative care course teaching
  • Previous GPASS/IT teaching
  • Previous Research training courses/teaching
  • Previous Inverness GP refresher course teaching

Research & Literature

CSO training practice 1997-2004 (scheme withdrawn nationally)

Dr Douglas was responsible for setting up Highland Primary care research network in 1997.

General Practice

  • PCR for flu diagnosis
  • Flu vaccine sero conversion over 5 years
  • Repeat prescribing risk scores
  • BMJ letters on intrapartum care in rural unit and seasonal allergic rhinitis
  • Physician Assistant Evaluation qualitative research
  • Bridging the gap: linking primary and secondary care for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Diving Medicine

  • BMJ review
  • ABC book chapter
  • Fish farming diving as cause of decompression sickness
  • New treatment methods +2 described for decompression
  • Sickness
  • Original publications on PFOs and chromosome damage

Occupational Medicine

  • New causes of occupational asthma
  • Occupational health for fish farming