A TAUNTON man has written a book about his life as a country doctor in the 1970s.

Dr Tom Ferrier used to write stories about the things he encountered as a GP, but never found the time to write a book - until he retired to Somerset eight years ago.

Patients, Pills and Partridges covers all the approaches to medicine that we wouldn’t recognise today: babies were born at home, injuries dealt with on the spot, same day appointments and home visits were normal.

Dr Ferrier said: “My stories are foremost about people and country life. They reflect what we did as GPs.

“We were an integral part of the local community.

“Patients saw their own doctors; babies were born at home; nights, weekends and bank holidays were covered by a rota system of local doctors.

“We ate and drank in the same restaurants, cafes and pubs; we belonged to the same clubs and religious communities as our patients.

“We knew them intimately and continuity of care was at the forefront. This is what I’ve tried to portray in the book, to give readers a real sense of what things were like back then and just how much the landscape has changed since.”

After qualifying in 1967, Dr Ferrier trained as an obstetrician and gynaecologist and then became a GP.

The eventually, after an increase in medical research, he became a pharmaceutical physician - a job that took Dr Ferrier around the world.

“Two things happened – women were encouraged to have babies in hospital, and there was an enormous increase in medical research for new treatments – especially drug research” he added.

“This was a very exciting time and I started undertaking clinical studies, on new drugs, for pharmaceutical companies whilst in Family Practice.

“It was the birth of a new era in medicine and a new occupation – the Pharmaceutical Physician. I was hooked.

“In 1975, I was offered a position in a research team in Delft, The Netherlands and spent the next 40 plus years in new drug development.”

Somerset County Gazette: Patients, Pills and Partridges by Dr Tom FerrierPatients, Pills and Partridges by Dr Tom Ferrier

Dr Ferrier also shared with us some quotes from the book... 

 “Your job, Ferrier, is to look after the nurses. Yes, Ferrier, to properly look after the nurses – to keep them HAPPY!”

… had Ward Sister’s smile turned, ever so slightly, into a grin? Just what did the Professor of Medicine mean by “keeping nurses happy?”


“– my first (and so far, my only) referral of a patient to a gunsmith for radical treatment…

Not every successful treatment comes in a glass bottle or as a result of the use of the surgeon’s knife.”


 “The police, having cast a professional eye over the decrepit weapon as it waved to and fro before them, concluded that should Reggie be foolish enough to pull a trigger, the victim would most likely be himself.”


“Standing up, rather shakily, she stripped to the waist ready for an examination. The effort of pulling her woollen vest over her head brought her to an abrupt halt, and she collapsed again onto the chair”.

“Why on earth didn’t you stay in bed and ask me to visit you?”


“… he was dressed in a long black PVC Macintosh and white operating-theatre boots. On the bar lay a pair of thick rubber gloves and at his feet stood a large bucket of disinfectant. It was the Ministry Vet, looking for all the world like he was ready to put down a herd of rabid antelope."