Dr David Dart

My father fought with the Coldstream Guards in the African desert campaign of World War Two. Later in life, this brought about chronic asthma and emphysema, conditions not helped by dad’s choice of career – he was a master dyer in a the dry cleaning trade – or by smoking three packs of unfiltered Senior Service cigarettes a day. Dr David Dart was our GP in the days when I was growing up and, as you will see, he saved dad’s life on more than one occasion…

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Dear Dr Dart

I never really knew my father as a well man. I remember waking in the small hours of countless nights to see flashing blue lights pulsing in to my room from the street below – and then hearing the ambulance crew trundling dad away to yet another stay in that desolate hilltop outpost known as Bevendean Hospital.

But it was always you who we called ahead of the ambulance (that’s what we did in those days – we’d never call an ambulance ahead of a GP unless someone was bleeding to death). Dad’s conditions were chronic and he visited you regularly to ensure the array of drugs he had to take were at the correct strengths and doses. But, despite these check-ups, sometimes his breathing would become so bad and so terrifying – for him and for us – that we had no choice but to call you. In those days, after hours calls went straight to the GP’s private phone beside their bed. We must have made that call to you a dozen times or more over the years – once even on Christmas Day, just after you had settled down to your dinner with your family. And, on that occasion and all the others, you didn’t flinch, or make any suggestion or attempt not to jump in to your car and come to see him.

You were a very matter-of-fact individual; everyone said you had no ‘bedside manner’ and they were right. In fact, whilst waiting to see you myself on one occasion, I witnessed you yanking open your surgery door and physically ejecting a ‘patient’, snarling “don’t waste my time again.” And each time you came to see dad you entered the house, wiped your feet, sorted him out and left. No passing the time of day, no conversation, no frills. But you had such a deep sense of duty that seems a lifetime away in these days where a GP visiting a patient after hours is about as likely as the second coming – one that can speak English, at any rate.

The other thing I remember is that you never judged dad or shied away from treating him because he smoked. You knew his history; he was a soldier and a factory worker and solders and workers liked a smoke. What’s more, I think I’m right in saying that you enjoyed the occasional puff of a pipe yourself!

So thank you, Dr Dart. I am forever sad that I was only 16 when I lost my father but, without you, that loss would have been much sooner.

And thank you for sorting out the crocodile issue, too!

Simon Bailey

Mile Oak surgery

Mile Oak surgery, Chalky Road, where Dr Dart held his surgeries, as it is today.
He parked his car in the same spot every day and I remember being chastised with some venom for leaving my motorbike in that space on one occasion

One thought on “Dr David Dart

  1. shauna says:

    This is wonderful! Good job Simon!

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