Dr Stanley shares her story in final chapter of Discovering Our Doctors

Clive and Katherine Stanley, Warwick and Dianna unveil the panel that now hangs on the Forbes Medical Centre walls.
Clive and Katherine Stanley, Warwick and Dianna unveil the panel that now hangs on the Forbes Medical Centre walls.

Dr Katherine Stanley was Forbes' first female GP and her story has now been added to the Discovering Our Doctors heritage project.

Dr Stanley and her family returned to Forbes this month to unveil her panel as part of Forbes Heritage 2019.

At a special event at Forbes Town Hall, the long-serving doctor reflected on her move here, when she married Clive Thomas, in 1967.

"Forbes was a delightful country town away from the busy city and suburbs," Dr Stanley said. "People always had time for a chat. I was very happy in my new home."

Dr Stanley had completed six years of study and two years as a registrar, but did not immediately begin practicing medicine here.

"At this time there was no place for another general practitioner in Forbes," she explained.

"Medicare did not exist. Those who couldn't afford a visit to the doctor except for really urgent reasons might visit their pharmacist or the ambulance officer and seek his opinion first.

"Payment with home-grown produce was not uncommon."

Dr Stanley's first role here was to revive the Schools Medical Practice, visiting the district's schools with nurse Margaret Miller checking eyesight, hearing, general health and development of children.

She joined the Dent / Dyce Medical Practice part-time in 1969, and the couple had their children Warwick and Dianne in the early 1970s.

Her years in that practice saw radical changes in medicine: the introduction of Medibank (which preceded Medicare); specialists travelling to regional areas; and the formation of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

Then there was the introduction of GP registrars, which added a teaching element to the role, and the computerisation of the Harold Street Surgery.

Country communities also began to see difficulty recruiting new doctors to practice in country towns, and Harold Street Medical Practice advertised far and wide to recruit Dr Neale Somes and Dr Greg Whittacker.

The Stanleys made the decision to move on from Forbes in 2006.

Sadly, at that time young vandals set fire to the garbage bins at the back of the premises and the surgery was severely damaged.

"The relocation of Harold Street Medical Centre to the Maclean Ward at Forbes District Hospital and the clean-up task was still in progress when we left," Dr Stanley said. "It's marvelous to see how well it all turned out in the end."

The Stanleys moved to the Central Coast. They live in closer proximity to Warwick, a radiologist, and Dianna, an architect.

The editor's thanks to Kerry Neaylon, who researched and wrote the panel which is now on display at Forbes Medical Centre.