The doctor who led the development of general practice as a specialty

By College Staff writer

29 October 2021

Category: College and members


Dr William (Bill) Brabazon (1926 – 2021)

Dr Brabazon graduated Otago Medical School in 1951, a time affectionately known as ‘The Vintage Year’ because it was the first time an entire class passed the final exams. 

After graduating, he spent three years working in hospitals around the North Island and then made the decision to open his own practice, which he ran from his family home in Glen Innes, Auckland. He moved to a new, separate premises once the house was filled with his five children; three boys and two girls.

Between 1960-1980, Dr Brabazon served on several medical boards on behalf of the College. In 1964, while serving as secretary of the undergraduate education committee, the group was tasked with reporting on the place of general practice in medical school curricula. 

The conclusion of the report stated, “that it is essential to imbue the early stages of medical training with such interest and purpose that young doctors go out into the world impelled by an inner necessity to go on learning and to be good doctors.” When the report was presented to the Medical Council they found “that this matter was highly controversial and that it could not endorse this report as its undivided opinion.” The report was later shared in the 鶹Ƶ Medical Journal as its own opinion. 

He was one of the original members of the Board of Censors established in 1967 to advise and assist the 鶹Ƶ Council (at the time the College was part of the UK College) on questions concerned with membership or associateship of the College. The Board decided upon the examination and general practice requirements needed to attain College membership.

Dr Brabazon was appointed as the College representative to the Medical Council and held this role from 1975-1981. He played a significant role in College history when, in 1978, he announced that the Medical Council had unanimously approved the inclusion of General Practice/Family Medicine as a specialty and that the College would be the Medical Council’s reference body for the specialty.

In 2017, Dr Brabazon returned his ceremonial robe to the College, a mere 50 years after he first wore it. This was featured in a story by and highlighted a touching tribute made by the College of having Dr Brabazon’s name stitched inside the robe so that the next generations of GPs who wear it when receiving their Fellowship are reminded that “they are entering a profession steeped in history.”