Mum’s The Word At Scilly’s Health Centre

Drs John and Margaret Garman

St Mary’s Health Centre has found an innovative way to cover Christmas shifts and the on-call GP service.

Dr John Garman has brought in his mother.

Two doctors have to be available at all times on the islands in case one GP needs to accompany a patient on a medical evacuation and because our doctors also care for patients with emergencies at the hospital.

For the last week, John’s mother Margaret, who usually works at a hospital in the Southampton area, has been working alongside him at the Health Centre.

She says she has found it easy and enjoyable working with her son, whom she calls a ‘font of knowledge.’

From Radio Scilly

John and his mum, Margaret, talk about the unusual locum arrangement

John said he enjoyed working closely with his mother, too, but said it felt strange calling her ‘Dr Garman’ at work and the end couldn’t help calling her ‘mum.’

John says finding a locum over Christmas would have been difficult, potentially involving separating someone from their family, so employing his mother provided the perfect solution.

Margaret says John often refers to her own GP practice in Southampton, that she held when he was growing up, as his inspiration for pursuing a medical career.

She says there’s a huge difference between her mainland work and what she has been doing in Scilly. Margaret says Southampton has a huge hospital dealing with all specialties and paramedics that ‘appear out of nowhere’ but here you’re totally on your own.

And the on-call overnight service here took some getting used to. On the mainland, out-of-hours doctors take over the night shift while here, the islands’ doctors cover everything.

But she has found the experience very rewarding, with the advantage that it’s given her a chance to spend extended time with her three grandchildren, including seeing them in the school nativity play.

John and his family are hoping to have their Christmas meal today, now he’s off call for a few days.


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