By Peter Kennedy
A pioneering Midland doctor who set up the first GP surgery in Chelmsley Wood has died at the age of 76.
Irish-born Dr Richard Pomeroy started his first practice single-handedly in a small rented house as the Birmingham overspill estate was still being developed in the 1960s.
He had previously worked as a locum at Alum Rock in Birmingham, but when he heard about the city council’s plans for the major housing development, he knew immediately it would provide the challenge he wanted. “It was tough going at first, frontier stuff,” Dr Pomeroy recalled in a newspaper interview years later. “The people settling there had come out of Birmingham, they had brand new homes but missed the old neighbourhoods they were so familiar with.
“Unlike other places where Birmingham people moved to, such as Telford or Redditch, there was no existing social infrastructure.” Dr Pomeroy was largely instrumental in founding the Craig Croft GP practice in Chelmsley Wood in 1968 and by the early 1970s it had nearly 15,000 patients, around a quarter of them under the age of 15.
“The health problems were of a kind endemic to areas of deprivation, where there was a lot of unemployment and actual poverty,” he said. “Infant mortality was quite high compared with the national average and pneumonia was a frequent cause of death.”
Craig Croft went on to establish a reputation for leading the way among GP surgeries with its maternity services and on tackling alcohol and drug problems. Dr Pomeroy, who formerly served on the West Midlands Regional Health Authority, was awarded the MBE in 1993 for “services to the people of Birmingham”.
His first GP partner, Dr Martin Allin, paid tribute to him. “Dick was a very caring doctor, someone who worked for the public rather than himself.
“He did an awful lot for the people of Chelmsley Wood.”
Another former partner, Dr Jenny Bent, said: “He was a very kind man and popular with all his patients.”
Dr Pomeroy was twice married. He leaves a widow, Michele, five daughters by his first wife, Jo, who also survives him, and one stepdaughter.
His funeral will be at Hampton-in-Arden Church at 2.30pm on July 17. The family request no flowers but donations may be made to the Stroke Association.