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Dundee’s contribution to healthcare

Dundee is home to Ninewells Hospital & Medical School so the city plays an invaluable role as a teaching centre for student doctors and health practitioners. This panel explores some of the medical ‘firsts’ which have historically been achieved within the city. It also celebrates the health professionals who have transformed outcomes for people across the world.

Health cartoon

1. NHS employees

From the first-year student nurse in her pink uniform and the sternly efficient Sisters and Matron in navy of the 1950s, to the 2020s where tunics and trousers of varying colour combinations denote many different roles and functions, NHS staff are the beating heart of Dundee’s healthcare system.


2. Renal dialysis

Ninewells Hospital is one of 10 renal units across Scotland, and the hospital is also a specialist training centre in renal medicine.


3. Scarf badge

This small scarf badge was once worn by some of Dundee Royal Infirmary’s nurses. The colours reflect nursing grades, while the motto reads ‘For sick and injured’.


4. Dundee Blood Transfusion Service

Ninewells Hospital is home to the Dundee Blood Donor Centre, where donors can give blood all year round to help save lives.


5. DNA helix

MRC PPU has been providing DNA sequencing and molecular biology services from its Dundee HQ since 1998.


6. Keyhole surgery

The familar ‘butterflies in the tummy’ feeling inspired this motif for laparoscopy (also known as keyhole surgery). The technique was pioneered by Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri who came to Dundee in 1976. The first example of minimally invasive surgery was carried out by him at Ninewells Hospital in 1987, and is still widely used.


7. Surgical knots

The modern nurse’s shoes, at the bottom of the panel, feature real surgical knots, stitched by two practising surgeons at Ninewells Hospital.


8. Midwifery badge

This badge was stitched by a retired nurse who copied the badge she was given when graduating from Dundee College of Nursing & Midwifery. The almond tree represents spring and new birth, while the blue and white lines represent the River Tay and the Nine Wells from which the hospital takes its name. The red lines on the right reflect the various disciplines within a hospital.

9. Prosthetic limbs

Professor George Murdoch (1920-2004) specialised in the study of prosthetics and orthotics. In 1965, he founded the Dundee Limb Fitting Centre in Broughty Ferry which was officially opened by WW2 amputee Douglas Bader. In 1979, it was renamed the Tayside Rehabilitation Engineering Service and the unit later moved to Ninewells Campus in 1999. Currently, the centre is known as TORT (Tayside Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Technology Services).


10. Radiation therapy

After visiting the Marie Curie Foundation in Paris in 1926, Professor Margaret Fairlie of Dundee Royal Infirmary pioneered the clinical use of radium in Scotland. You can discover more about Professor Fairlie on the SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH panel.


11. Eye health

The Eye Clinic at Ninewells Hospital is a busy place. Pioneering methods of patient management have helped to reduce NHS waiting lists for cataract surgery, and many patients are treated here for common eye conditions, including Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma.


12. Breast cancer screening

Kirsty Semple founded Tayside Breast Care and Mastectomy Group at Ninewells Hospital in 1978, and worked as a counsellor there.


13. Lung care

Much work has been done in Dundee to progress treatment and outcomes for people with respiratory diseases. Professor James Chalmers, Asthma and Lung UK Chair of Respiratory Research, and Clinical Professor at the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine, was recognised for his work with the treatment of Covid 19 patients during the pandemic, while Dr Anil Mehta’s team at Ninewells created the European Cystic Fibrosis Register. It began in Scotland in 2003 and was extended across the UK in 2007.

This panel was stitched by

Isobel Brown

Friedel Devlin

Margaret Hume

Marjorie Morrison

Margaret Ross

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