After 51 years, Dr Peters calls it a day

NEW Norfolk’s last standalone medical practice has closed with the sudden retirement of Dr Ralph Peters last week, just weeks after Dr Micheil Sweet also opted to hang up his stethoscope.

Dr Ralph Peters, 92, has decided to retire on medical grounds and saw his final patient last Thursday. “It was unexpected, although I realise at 92 it was time,” Dr Peters said today.

Until last week he had not given any thought to retirement. “While I was feeling well and performing to the best of my abilities for my patients I was happy to continue,” he said. “Although my condition is not life-threatening, retirement was recommended,” he said.

South African-trained Dr Peters arrived in New Norfolk with his family in November 1968. “It has been a privilege working here, the whole family is very proud of New Norfolk,” he said.

Reflecting on his 51 years of medical practise in Australia, Dr Peters said there had been a marvelous evolution of services in that time. “Even in this community for example, there has been such a lot of progress in patient care, management and the provision of ancillary services such as physiotherapy, podiatry, mental health, child health, all concentrated at the district hospital,” he said.

“The hospital provides a terrific service because you are looked after from infancy right through to old age. The ambulance service [has improved] over the years when you think of the introduction of defibrillators after Kerry Packer had his heart attack. We can be proud of the progress in medical care.”

Lapel pins presented to Dr Peters last year to commemorate his
50 years of service at the New Norfolk Hospital.

His 50 years of service at the New Norfolk Hospital was celebrated with a morning tea and presentation of lapel pins recognising his contribution to the Tasmanian Health Service late last year. The occasion also marked Dr Peters’ decision to relinquish his admitting rights at the hospital.

Dr Peters said his family had been very fortunate to settle in New Norfolk and it had been a privilege working here. His son Julian visited at the weekend and enjoyed a trip down memory lane, visiting his old primary school, church, homes he lived in, the district hospital, the golf club where he had his 21st birthday, the old peg factory and the various scenic lookout points. “I’m very proud of New Norfolk, to see it in such a good state, it’s a really tidy town,” Dr Peters said.

When Dr Peters arrived at New Norfolk in 1968 he was initially based at the district hospital and although its function as changed in that time, with the removal of maternity and casualty services, he remains a strong supporter of the facility.

“The hospital has been a great centre and I’m always impressed with the service at the hospital and the way that the place has been run by different matrons.  It compares very favourably with the other hospitals in Hobart.”

Dr Peters is the head of a family of medical professionals, with son Julian being a plastic surgeon in Melbourne, son David a well-known dentist in Hobart, and daughter Monica a nurse, while a son-in-law and daughter-in law are also doctors. Among his six grandchildren there is another doctor and dentist. He also has a young great-grandson.

Dr Peters with his staff Christine Salter, left, Marcia Graham,
and Liddy Harper.

He is full of praise for his staff, particularly Liddy Harper who has been his primary medical receptionist for 38 years, along with Hobart Pathology staff, local ambulance officers and nurses, and his colleagues at other practices.

“During my time here I have met so many lovely and helpful people, not only associated with the hospital but the general community and my medical colleagues. I am eternally grateful.”

Fellow long-serving New Norfolk GP Micheil Sweet retired at the start of this month, aged 89. Both men were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for their service.

Patients will be able to contact Dr Peters’ surgery in Burnett St, New Norfolk, to organise the transfer of medical files to another doctor of their choosing.

One Comment

  1. I had to relocate to Melbourne about 6 years ago after going through divorce after living in the Derwent Valley. I had been involved in a workplace fatality in 2014 whilst doing FIFO work, which had a significant impact on my life. Doctor Peters was an amazing doctor in assisting with my recovery. I feel honoured that I had been treated by Doctor Peters. He is an exceptional human being, providing an incredible service to his local community. You will be sorely missed.

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