Intended for healthcare professionals


Pat Beresford West

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 10 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2663
  1. Murray Fletcher,
  2. Anne Francis

Pat Beresford West (née Bagley) was raised in Thurso, the northernmost town on the mainland of Britain, and she remained fiercely proud of her Scottish heritage throughout her life.

Pat’s early career did not follow a conventional path, in no small part a reflection of her free spirit and sense of fun. She made a big impression wherever she went, and a friend described the impact of her “hippie dresses, bare feet, wild hair, and disarming style” on some of her more conservative colleagues, when she was working as a junior doctor.

After house jobs in Truro, Pat embarked on the first of many adventures. She joined an ocean going yacht headed for the Caribbean, combining her crewing duties with those of on-board doctor. There were many who urged caution about interrupting her career at such an early stage, but the lure of sun and adventure was too much.

Although at the end of the voyage she returned to the south-west of England, working again for a period in Cornwall (where she met her future husband), followed by north Devon, it was not long before the next adventure. This time she headed to the Outer Hebrides, to work for a while as a locum GP in Stornoway.

A move to South-east Asia followed later, and this was where she got married. However, by her own admission, Pat found the role of a dutiful colonial wife hard, and she quickly became bored and restless. On discovering she was pregnant, she insisted on returning to Edinburgh for the birth of her son, Ben.

The family eventually settled in north Devon, and over …

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