Cookstown GP retires after 35 years of service

Dr. Ernest Smyth, who has retired after 35 years service.
Dr. Ernest Smyth, who has retired after 35 years service.

Cookstown GP, Dr Ernie Smyth has hung up his stethescope after 35 years of invaluable service to the community.

Dr Smyth, Lead GP at Cookstown Health Centre, Orritor Road retired at the end of September 2013, 35 years after he started at the practice in 1978.

Speaking to the MAIL, Dr Smyth who also worked in the East Tyrone area as Senior Administrative Forensic Physican for 34 years, said he is very much enjoying his retirement.

Dr Smyth said: “I was concerned incase I wouldn’t be occupied enough but I am really enjoying it. I cycle a lot and I do some bird watching and I am learning the Tin Whistle and the Mouth Organ. I am also starting back in Bridge and I want to play chess as well, so I will have lots of things going on and I enjoy fishing as well. I don’t miss the work one bit.”

Reflecting on his time at Cookstown Health Centre, the father of five said: “I did lots of things while I was there. Our practice was the first computerised practice in the Mid-Ulster area. I had asked all the others, we all practiced under the one roof in those days. John Major, Prime Minister at the time was introducing new contracts for General Practice, and changing terms of employment and two-tier item service and I realised that you would have to get a computer to be able to go to collate all the information.

“I asked the other practices in the Health Centre three times if they wanted to get a computer and they all said no. So I went out on my own and got one at a cost of £3,800 which seemed an awful amount of money at the time.

“But about three months later, Sir Alan Sugar’s company were offering a computer virtually the same for a quarter of the price! But I couldn’t wait any longer as I only had six months to gather all the information together before the new contracts started. So it was money well spent.”

Dr Smyth added that he was looking forward to spending time with his family as many of his children and grandchildren are based outside of Cookstown.

Following in his footsteps. his children Emma and Geoff are also G.P’s, Emma is a Expedition Medic while Geoff is a GP in Australia, while his other children Louise, Graham and Timothy are based in Brighton, Edinburgh and Hemel Hempstead respectively.

The family were reunited over Christmas recently to help Dr Smyth celebrate his well-deserved retirement.