North Berwick: Retiring GP reflects on decades of change
Dr Morgan Flynn moved to North Berwick in 1989 from his native Ireland to start work at North Berwick Group Practice, becoming a well-known friendly face in the community.
The 62-year-old grew up in Sligo, attending the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, where he qualified in 1985 before spending four years at a variety of hospital posts in Ireland.
He told the Courier: “What attracted me to the town was the proximity to Edinburgh, the stunning views and the cottage hospital attached.”
Dr Flynn joined the practice as a partner, spending 19 years in the role before assuming the position of senior partner in 2009.
His wife, Dr Anne Mulrine, also works at the practice as a general practitioner and partner.
He told the Courier that the role of a GP had changed greatly over his more than 30 years in North Berwick, with medical advances and changes in practice becoming quite radical.
Dr Flynn added: “[At the beginning] a large proportion of the patients were elderly but since then the town has grown from 5,500 to 10,000 and is more mixed than before.
“When I came over, people were in hospital for two weeks for routine procedures – now telescopic surgery means they can be in and out in one day.
“A patient of mine 25 years ago was one of the first to have chemo prior to the removal of a cancer – there have been huge advances in chemo.”
He also alluded to another patient who received groundbreaking treatment for multiple sclerosis, saying that these moments of success were some of his most cherished memories of the job.
Dr Flynn also outlined some of the more difficult moments but stressed that “the town’s resilience and the caring nature of the people” made them easier.
He said: “There were difficult times, such as flu epidemics and the pandemic. There was huge uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic – some very sad stories. The people of the town, though, their community spirit was amazing.”
Speaking of his retirement Dr Flynn said there was no specific reason for his decision to step down and that it just felt the “right time”.
He said: “It was just the length of time [in the job], there was no incident or event.
“It was just the right time to end.”
He also confirmed that, with the worst of Covid over, it was a much better time as “no one wants to retire at the worst of the pandemic”.
Dr Flynn also shared his sadness over Edington Cottage Hospital, which partially closed more than a year ago, with its services relocated to East Lothian Community Hospital, Haddington.
He added: “It provided great comfort and a great service to the local community – it’s just very sad.
“I still have patients that would greatly benefit from its services.
“Great work can be done in a cottage hospital – it is a very, very valuable community asset.”
Dr Flynn now hopes to spend his retirement tending to his garden while also, perhaps, taking a course to study history of art.
The practice released a statement online that read: “North Berwick Group Practice wishes to announce the pending retirement of our senior partner Dr Morgan Flynn; his last working day will be Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
“Dr Flynn has provided a unique and personalised service to his patients over his 34 years, 19 as a partner and 14 as a senior partner.
“He will be sorely missed by the local community as a family doctor and by his working colleagues as a fantastic, devoted and hardworking member of the team.
“We wish Dr Flynn and his family the very best for their future.”
Patients are invited to leave their messages for Dr Flynn in a memory book which is in the health practice reception and will be presented to him on his retirement.
Kenny Miller, chairman of North Berwick Community Council, shared the group’s sadness at Dr Flynn retiring.
He said: “Dr Flynn will be missed when he retires. His expertise as a doctor, his sense of humour and his friendly manner made him an excellent GP. We wish him a long and happy retirement.”
East Lothian Courier