Patrick Turner is a GP who works closely with the midwives and nurses who tend to Poplar's poorest district. He is first introduced at the end of the pilot episode, arriving at a patient's home just after she had prematurely given birth and suffered a subsequent haemorrhage. He is portrayed by Stephen McGann.
Dr. Turner served as a doctor in World War II. In Series Three, it is reveled that he suffered a mental breakdown in 1945, which required a five-month stay in a psychiatric hospital. Sometime after the war, Dr. Turner married and had a son, Timothy, and began working with the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House.
According to the 2012 Christmas Special, Mrs. Turner passed away sometime during 1957, leaving behind Patrick and their son, Timothy.
Though he is a good father to his son and tries his best to make time for Timothy, his duties providing advanced care to the ever growing district of the East End of Poplar, often take away from his domestic duties. The staff of Nonnatus take notice, and Trixie, at one point, mentions that Timothy looks a little unkempt, and that Dr. Turner's clothes need mending though he has no time to take them to a seamstress and has no wife to help him.
During the course of Series One, it is hinted that Sister Bernadette has more feelings for the doctor than are appropriate for a nun. The first incident is when she secretly fixes the missing button on his lab coat for him.
At another point, during the birth of Mave Carter's twins, her twin Meg barged into the birthing room and shoved his away from her sister and slapped Sister Bernadette as they tried to save both mother and baby, due to her mistaken belief that they meant Mave harm. Dr. Turner was infuriated, and when the babies were safely delivered, he and the Sister stood in the streets to catch their breath. As he smoked a cigarette, he commended her for her resilience during the hectic birth and battle of wills with Meg. He offers her a cigarette, to which Sister Bernadette replies "just a puff". She and the doctor share a small moment, wherein Dr Turner seems to have some feelings for her, before she goes off back to Nonnatus House.
During a fete, wherein Dr. Turner is meant to participate with his son in a three-legged race, Dr. Turner is called away when a woman haemorrhages after a botched abortion. In his stead, Sister Bernadette pairs with Timothy, and wins, though they trip at the finish line and causes a bad cut to the Sister's hand. She goes inside Nonnatus to clean it, and Dr. Turner comes in to see if she'd like him to have a look at it. As he inspects her hand, he is overcome with his long brewing affection and kisses her hand.
Sister Bernadette immediately turns away, and Dr. Turner apologizes at once. She replies that he shouldn't be sorry and that it was not an unforgivable offense to her, but she turns away for her vows to God. "And if I didn't respect that, I wouldn't deserve to live." Dr. Turner replies, before leaving.
After treating many patients for tuberculosis, Dr. Turner confides in Sister Julienne that he is getting to those affected too late, due to them not even knowing they carried the disease. With Sister Julienne's insistence, he commissions that department of health with Sister Bernadette, and with their passionate arguments, a portable x-ray van is scheduled to come to Poplar.
Sister Bernadette is revealed to have the disease, and is sent to recover in a sanatorium. After realizing he has fallen in love with Sister Bernadette, Dr. Turner sends her many letters, though she cannot bring herself to read them, let alone respond to them. Patrick's spirits are dampened when he learns that she is keeping touch with the other women of Nonnatus. After a talk with Sister Julienne about her place with the Order, Sister Bernadette responds to a letter Timothy sent her, and adds a postscript for Dr. Turner, saying she will reply to his letter in due course.
Realizing she is in love with Dr. Turner, and wants a life outside the religious life, Sister Bernadette leaves the order and retakes her birth name: Shelagh.
She calls Dr. Turner on the phone, telling him she is being released, and that she is no longer a part of the religious order. He insists that he go get her in his car, but she replies that she will take the bus. Before they can agree, Dr. Turner is called away and Shelagh makes the walk to the bus.
After tending to his patients, Dr. Turner and Timothy drive out to the sanatorium and are told Shelagh made the trip to the bus stop. Searching for her, and coming up empty in the dense fog, Turner and his son finally spot her walking through the mist. Getting out from the car, Dr. Turner wraps her in his coat to get her warm and confesses his love for her, which she answers with her own declaration. They finally reveal their real first names to each other. Not long after, he proposes and she says yes.
They get married in the 2013 Christmas Special, however Timothy is struck down by polio, forcing them to delay the wedding. Timothy pulls through his illness and the wedding goes ahead, though polio has damaged Timothy's legs and requires him to wear braces. After they get married, it is learned that, due to the TB scarring her reproductive organs, Shelagh is unlikely to ever carry a child of her own, though Patrick is not as distraught over the outcome as his wife. Thus, Shelagh pursues adoption, only for Patrick to reconsider when he realizes how in-depth the questions are.
Though Patrick tries to drag his feet and avoid going through with the adoption agency, Shelagh persists. The reason for Patrick's reluctance is thus revealed: the adoption process has uncovered that he went through a mental breakdown after World War II. A rift grows between Patrick and Shelagh when the truth comes out in front of the adoption people, who insinuate the Turners are not suitable adoptive parents.
However, when the adoption society contact them, they relate that they are deemed suitable adoptive parents, though the rift still lingers. Soon, Patrick apologizes to his wife about keeping his past mental issues from her, and Shelagh forgives him though she cannot forget it.
After a teenage girl's parents change their mind about keeping their grandchild, a baby girl is put up for adoption and Patrick and Shelagh are chosen first. Arriving at the agency, Patrick and Shelagh enter the nursery to meet their child, but Shelagh is nervous, saying this is the closes she's ever going to get to giving birth. Patrick goes first to the crib, and tearfully, Shelagh asks "what's she like?" Patrick tells her to close her eyes, and hold out her arms. He carries the newborn over to his wife and places her in her arms saying "here's your Mummy".
The Turners name their baby Angela Julienne Turner.
In Series Four, Patrick prescribes a pregnant woman suffering extreme morning sickness Distoval, a pill which will keep her from vomiting 40-50 times a day. One of the key ingredients to the drug's effectiveness, however, is Thalidomide, which would later be revealed to cause significant malformation of limbs to babies whose mothers took the drug while pregnant. He also begins to question his own abilities as a doctor when he has a baby boy removed from the care of his Christian Scientist parents who refused to give him medicine as it was against their faith and both came under suspicion of physically abusing him, but when a foster carer brought the baby in and explained he'd suffered a fracture in spite of the greatest of care, Patrick realizes the baby is suffering from osteogenesis imperfecta, an extremely rare brittle bone disease and feels guilty for not thinking of it before. He is soon taken ill and Shelagh takes over running the surgery for him with the help of Nurse Mount. When Nurse Gilbert and Cynthia Miller realize that one of their patients is suffering from diphtheria and is struggling to breathe, Mary Cynthia asks Patrick for help. Having regained his belief in his abilities thanks in part to gifts received from his grateful patients, he rushes to the scene and performs an emergency tracheotomy on the woman and saves her life.
In Season 5, as Poplar babies are starting to be born with malformed limbs, Patrick tries to figure out the reason, which remains until the end of the season. At the same time, Timothy, who read in a medical journal that smoking cigarettes can cause lung cancer, gets his parents to quit. Patrick is not entirely faithful to the goal, and only truly stops when he catches Timothy sneaking a cigarette. Later, Tim cheekily reveals that it was a reverse psychology method to get Patrick and Shelagh serous about quitting.
When Shelagh gets the news that Distoval, a drug they'd been prescribing to the women of Poplar, has been withdrawn due to it's effects on fetuses, she and Patrick are angry and distraught. Patrick begins smoking again, and the Turner's feel incredibly responsible for the babies in Poplar that were born limbless.
Patrick still feels guilty for his part in the thalidomide scandal in the 2016 Christmas special in which he and Shelagh accompany a party from Nonnatus House to Apartheid-era South Africa to help save a struggling mission hospital from closure. Patrick's confidence takes another knock when a boy brings his polio-stricken brother to be vaccinated, but Patrick tells them the vaccine won't help as the boys already had the disease. Dr. Myra Fitzsimmons, who helps run the clinic, suddenly falls ill and convinces herself she has liver cancer. Patrick is convinced her diagnosis is wrong, but is unable to examine Dr. Myra as she won't allow him anywhere near her until Shelagh convinces her to let her husband examine her. Patrick determines Dr. Myra has an abscess and drains it, but Dr. Myra's health continues to deteriorate. Patrick gains hope when he learns of an experimental drug that might save Dr. Myra's life, and he and Shelagh take her to a General Hospital. Dr. Myra gradually recuperates and Patrick recovers his self-belief and gives the black boy with polio Timothy's old leg braces to help him walk.