Reporter 428, 30 November 1998


Resolution adopted by the Senate (21 October 1998) on the retirement of

Professor Conrad Harris

Conrad Harris has been Professor of General Practice at the University since 1986. During these 12 years he has led the academic development of general practice in Leeds so that now we have a highly respected teaching department with a rich network of practice tutors who play an increasingly important part in producing future generations of doctors. In addition, he and his co-workers have also made substantial contributions to research in many areas particularly the better understanding of the many issues surrounding the prescribing of drugs in general practice.

Conrad grew up in Bootle, the son of a medical practitioner and, after qualifying in medicine at the University of Liverpool, entered general practice in his home town and remained a principal in general practice there from 1959 to 1971. Those who knew him during this time as a medical student and in early professional life comment on the breadth of his interests, the extent of his reading and his deep understanding and love of medical practice. His early and long standing interest in the development of teaching and training in general practice, from which the University of Leeds was later to benefit, can be seen from the fact that, from 1969 1971, he was secretary of the Education Committee of the Royal College of General Practitioners. This was followed immediately by a decade as an examiner for the Membership of that Royal College.

The creation, in Leeds, of a separate Department of General Practice and Professor Harris’s appointment as the first head of that department signalled a period of vitally important changes in academic general practice in Leeds and elsewhere. The importance of the changes that occurred in the specialty at that time can be judged by one comment made recently by a contemporary - that Professor Harris and his colleagues ‘changed University general practice from a group of very talented but amateur academics into a serious professional group’.

Important research activities developed alongside innovations in teaching. The Prescribing Research Unit in Leeds, under Professor Harris’s leadership, made valued contributions to the understanding of a number of issues in the field of general practice prescribing. These included the phenomenon of ‘repeat prescribing’, the impact of general practice ‘fund-holding’ on prescribing patterns and the relationships of these patterns to unemployment and other socio-economic characteristics of the patients seen in primary care.

The esteem in which Professor Harris is held internationally is demonstrated by his educational expertise and advice on developing health care services being sought in the USA, Australia, Malta, Taiwan and, most recently, by the National Medical University of Mongolia. His colleagues throughout the University and beyond wish him well on his retirement and will miss his erudite contributions to many aspects of our work.

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