Dr Bob calls it a day after delivering thousands of bubs

AFTER nearly half a century serving Ipswich and helping to bring generations of local families into the world, Dr Bob McGregor has decided it is time to hang up the stethoscope and pull down the shingle.

The 75-year-old has played a monumental role in shaping both of the city’s hospitals since he arrived in Ipswich in 1974.

He admits he lost track of the number of babies he’s helped deliver a long time ago.

Dr Bob McGregor.
Dr Bob McGregor.

The paediatrician will officially finish up on Tuesday night after chairing his final meeting for the St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital’s medical advisory board.

“I’m looking after the grandchildren of women whose birth I was at,” he said.

Although retirement is a chance to spend more time with wife Lydia, his eight kids and many grandchildren, there isn’t much chance of Dr McGregor standing still.

He is hopeful of being involved in a study at the University of Southern Queensland which will look at the drivers of mental health in young people.

Dr McGregor also intends to pick the guitar back up, tackle more woodwork projects out of his shed and he has recently taken up model car building.

“I’m the sort of guy who has to be doing something, I think I have a bit of ADHD,” he laughed.

“I’m absolutely cool about (retirement).

“I’ve got a lot of things to do.”

Even as he clocked off for the day, Dr McGregor’s tireless efforts over the years in organising and supporting community causes has left a significant legacy.

He arrived in the city in 1974 as Ipswich Hospital’s first paediatrician having got his ticket at the age of just 28.

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“There was a paediatric ward at St Andrew’s but it was only for surgical patients,” he said.

“So all of the medical stuff was done at Ipswich Hospital.

“When I got through in 1974 there were no paediatricians outside of Brisbane except (for one) in Rockhampton.

“The whole of Queensland was open.”

His work in Ipswich was complemented by an appointment to the Mater Children’s Private Hospital in Brisbane, where he stayed for 11 years.

“I was fairly busy there too but I saw Ipswich as always my first priority getting it going,” Dr McGregor said.

“(Ipswich Hospital) was still very much a Victorian sort of hospital in those days.

“It was an open ward with no private wards whatsoever.

“We raised a lot of money for the children’s ward.

“We put in place a whole lot of comforts for children and curtains. We set up a consulting area outside the area on the veranda.

“It was really supported by Steph Shannon, who was the long term sister in charge of the unit.

“They didn’t have a special care nursery. It was basically nothing. They had one crib but it was a really ancient crib. They had a ventilator that didn’t work.”

What came next demonstrated Dr McGregor’s skill for raising funds for important causes which would only grow over the next 47 years.

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“I spent a lot of time going around the various service clubs, giving talks and raising money,” he said.

“I raised around $10,000 at that time for that nursery.

“That would be worth ten times that much now. It’s gone from strength to strength.

“It’s a source of pride. I was able to set up that unit and watch it flourish over the years.

“We spent a lot of time getting it accredited for basic training for paediatrics and it was the first non-tertiary hospital to be accredited for that in Australia.

“There was no paediatrician at St Andrew’s. In 1988 we got obstetrics there. I was able to sort of get child health secondary care established in both St Andrew’s and the general hospital.

“That’s an immense source of pride.”

In 1976 he moved from Pullenvale to Karana Downs and set up the progress association and edited the Community Chronicle.

He is still heavily involved in the community as a board member of the Ipswich Hospital Foundation and the fundraising director for the Rotary Club of Ipswich.

Dr McGregor founded the Ipswich100 Bike Ride fundraising event 22 years ago, which has raised more than $1.6 million for charity so far.

In 2014 he was named as Queensland’s Senior Australian of the Year and he was a baton holder in the 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay.

He also served as chair of the Ipswich Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect team for 36 years.

“I’ve done a fair bit over that time, I’ve kept myself busy as well as running a busy practice,” he laughed.

“It’s always been uplifting.

“I’ve really enjoyed the journey.

“The people of Ipswich are just wonderful to work with. I just love people.

“There’s no airs and graces about them. They don’t hold things back.”

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.

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