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After five years in the Royal Air Force, James Hill Barber (“Hamish”) obtained his MD while working as a general practitioner in Callendar, Stirlingshire. He was the first GP appointed to the Livingston project, involving joint hospital and general practice appointments. In 1972 he was appointed as senior lecturer at Glasgow University, and had no difficulty meeting the unprecedented challenge that teaching in general practice would only be accepted if shown to be effective. As there was no textbook he wrote one, The Textbook of General Practice Medicine. When funds were obtained to establish a separate university department of general practice, he was the natural first holder of the Norie Miller chair, endowed by the General Accident Insurance Group.
His innovations included computer assisted learning, a module based MSc in general practice, and health visitor-led preventive programmes for children and the elderly in primary care. Hamish was a true academic entrepreneur, building capacity via a series of clinical trials funded by pharmaceutical companies and a fruitful continuing relationship with General Accident.
Many doctors were inspired by his joint teaching sessions with hospital colleagues at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. After two decades at the helm, he left a legacy from which new success was assured. Five of his team (David Hannay, Stuart Murray, Frank Sullivan, Tim Usherwood, and Jill Morrison) themselves became professors of general practice.
He was an expert yachtsman and model boat builder, with 10 fishing boats on permanent display at the Scottish Fisheries Museum at Anstruther. He leaves his wife, Marion; three daughters and a son by his first wife, Pat; and 11 grandchildren.
Former professor of general practice University of Glasgow (b 1933; q Edinburgh 1957; MD, FRCGP, FRCP(Glas)), d 26 August 2007.