Prof Sir Lewis Ritchie

Lewis Duthie Ritchie was born in Fraserburgh (1952), where both his grandfathers had been fishermen and his father was a mechanical engineer in the local tool works.  He was dux at Fraserburgh Academy and excelled in chemistry which he read Aberdeen University, joining the new computing science course.  After witnessing a sudden death at a football match in Aberdeen he decided to study medicine and transferred into the medical faculty following completion of his chemistry degree, grauating MBChB with Commendation (1978). He did a general training in hospital medicine including plastic surgery, haematology, obstetrics and medicine, becoming a GP in Peterhead and thereafter started vocational training in public health. His dissertation for a master’s degree in public health (MD 1992 Aberdeen University) was on the potential of microcomputers in general practice.

He returned to Peterhead as principal GP and partner in 1984 and became a part-time consultant in public health medicine in 1987 with responsibility for community infection control and immunisation. In 1992, he was appointed as James Mackenzie Professor of General Practice.  He demonstrated the benefits of a systematic nurse-led secondary prevention in general practice and led the national programme for the introduction of meningitis C vaccine in Scotland.  He became the chairman of the Scottish Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (SMASAC) and promoted leadership professionalism and excellence in Scottish medicine. He retired from general practice in 2012, when he was appointed Director of Public Health in NHS Grampian. He was chair of the Council of Queen’s Nursing Institute in Scotland in 2014.

Sir Lewis Ritchie is one of only a few General Practitioners to have received a knighthood in recognition of their services to healthcare. His contributions range from medical computing to independent reviews of a variety of challenging problems facing the delivery of healthcare. He has chaired groups in the Chief Scientist's Office, introduced immunisation programs, developed electronic clinical communications, chaired research committees, as well as being non-executive director of NHS24.  He was a major contributor to Scottish guidelines on prescribing for cardiovascular disease and the configuration of emergency healthcare services in all Scottish regions and constructed a report on out of hours service which formed the basis for future practice in Scotland. Lewis Ritchie has managed to achieve change of a scale and type achieved by few others.  He exhibits leadership and achieves change through his gentle transformational style of communication which is nonetheless persuasive, effective and efficient.

He served on 121 national committees (mostly NHS Scotland), chairing 49 (NHS Scotland, RCGP Scotland, MRC, NIHR UK) and has over 200 publications including 40 national reports for Scottish Government. His many academic achievements have been alongside being a jobbing general practitioner in Peterhead. He also found time to be an active member of his local church including acting as beadle for many years. He has restored the former Peterhead Lifeboat RNLB Julia Park Barry to original condition wwhich is now housed within the former HM Prison Peterhead.

2001 OBE Queen's Birthday Honours (for services to general practice and primary care in Scotland)
2007 Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Eric Elder Medal – for contributions to the international development of primary care
2010 Royal College of General Practitioners UK, James Mackenzie Lectureship and Medal
2011 Knight Bachelor New Year Honours (for services to the NHS in Scotland)
2015 Honorary Fellowship Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
2016 Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
2016 Honorary Fellowship Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
2018 President Harvein Society of Edinburgh

University of Aberdeen

Biography prepared from the nomination made to the University of Aberdeen 525 Alumni project.