Nottingham Hospitals Archives 2011
NOTTINGHAM’S EMINENT SURGEONS AND PHYSICIANS
James Spowart McCracken M.B.E.,
President of the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society
2000 - 2001
James (Jim) McCracken, President for the 2000/1 session, was appointed M.B.E. for his services to General Practice. This was something of an understatement since his work as an innovative general practitioner led him to other specialities, such as domiciliary midwifery, infective diseases in childhood, health care of the elderly and those who were mentally handicapped. If this were no enough he was a first class middle distance and marathon runner, fisherman, pilot, and parachutist.
Jim McCracken was born in Glasgow and educated at Dollar Academy where he held the School Mile and Cross-Country records. After completing his National Service in 1951 in the Royal Army Medical Corps as an operating theatre technician he entered Aberdeen University where he became the President of the Aberdeen University Athletics Association in 1954-55. He eventually graduated M.B., ChB., in 1957.
After various house appointments at Airthrey Castle Maternity Hospital, Stirling and the Aberdeen City Hospital he moved to the Hospital for Women on Peel Street, Nottingham. It was a move, which was to lay the foundations to the rest of his professional life.
In 1960 he entered general practice with Dr. Dick Hutchinson in Beeston. However, a few year later came a new challenge came his way. Would he consider building practice premises on a new private estate (Rise Park), not yet built? The challenge proved irresistible; Jim McCracken took the plunge buying three plots of land for the family home, a purpose built surgery and planning permission to extend. The address “The Surgery Rise Park” had the intended effect of ensuring no competition for colleagues! At the time, in the 1960’s such a move was considered rather ambitious and not without its risks. Nevertheless the risk was taken and Jim and his wife Anne, whom he had met when she was working as a radiographer at the Women’s Hospital, were well on their way.
But for Jim this challenge was not enough. His had to be a practice with optional extras! From the beginning full obstetrical care was provided. Before a new Maternity Unit was opened at the Nottingham City Hospital home deliveries were routinely undertaken. His own figure of perinatal mortality of 7.3/1000 with home deliveries was remarkable. On its opening the practice was given access and continued to offer what became known as “home delivery in hospital”. His contribution to obstetric and gynaecology was recognised by the election to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists an unusual distinction for a family doctor. He also had particular interest in the communicable diseases of childhood and published papers on rubella, the “Cri du Chat” syndrome and childhood asthma.
From the early days of the Nottingham Medical School, Jim McCracken was one of the founding members of the University Department of General Practice being part-time lecturer from 1974 to 1996.
Outside the world of medicine, Jim McCracken was a man for all seasons. He learned to fly, amassing 1500 flying hours, a thousand of these being instructional; he had his own glider and undertook seven parachute jumps. After the death of his son Duncan who died in tragic circumstances shortly before his 21st birthday, Jim found solace in the loneliness of the long distance runner returning to training, which he eschewed on leaving university, nearly thirty years previously. He ran his last marathon in 3 hours 18 minutes and 20 seconds when he was nearly 58.
So to his Presidential year. Jim took for this theme for the year the words of the prophet Joel, quoted by St. Peter in the Acts of the Apostles “…..your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams”. The programme was designed to explore just such visions and dreams and provided, if attendance were anything to go by, one of the most popular and stimulating in recent memory.
Amongst the innovations was a Champagne Reception before the Presidential Address, at which members of the Society were invited to view the Society’s own rare book collection normally held in the Hallward Library on the Nottingham University campus. The Summer Ball was based on a Grand Highland Ball and held at the East Midlands Conference Centre on the Nottingham University campus, which attracted nearly 500 guests. The innovation which he would best like to be remembered for, was inviting Professor Jim Lowe to register domain name – medchi.org.uk – for the Society and to initiate the development of its website.
A man of both fun and charisma Dr. Jim McCracken brought to bear on the Society his immense energy which made his term a year to remember and cherish.