Popular GP bids farewell to patients with emotional letter after 33 years in Beccles

Dr Glenn Collins of Beccles Medical Centre

Dr Glenn Collins of Beccles Medical Centre - Credit: Dr Glenn Collins

A town's popular doctor has written a farewell letter to his "wonderful" patients after stepping down following a cancer diagnosis.

Dr Glenn Collins has treated patients at Beccles Medical Centre for more than three decades since arriving in 1988, but now, two years earlier than planned, he has left his role due to ill health.

After 33 years at the practice, he has written a letter to his patients and the local community, saying his time in the town has been "an absolute privilege" and thanking his patients and the local community.

In the letter, printed in full below, he said: "Usually when GPs retire, a sweet placating article is written about them, their career and their dedication to the health service.

"Alas, due to unforeseen circumstances, I find myself in front of my computer writing to you all well in advance of what I intended.


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"Very recently, and quite unexpectedly, I was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, this diagnosis has come quite late in the day as I had been quite oblivious to the signs.

"It has been an absolute privilege caring and looking after you all to the best of my ability for the past three decades, so thank you for your trust and for letting me into your lives.

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"From the first day I came to Beccles, I knew this was my destiny."

Dr Collins added the demands on his job have "escalated enormously" since he arrived in Beccles.

He said: "Back in 1988, it was 24 patients a day, all face-to-face, maybe two home visits and prescriptions were all handwritten and collected.

"Compare that to a world where a list of 100 patients a day is normal, with a mixture of telephone, video consult and face-to-face, all while the surgery is open seven days a week.

"There are some who would say I have spent far too much time at work over the years, but I have loved (nearly) every minute of it.

"This is not a call for sympathy, but I would plead tolerance for those who remain at the practice, for the incredibly hard work they do and for those following in my footsteps.

"Everyone is doing their very best."

Dr Glenn Collins' letter

Dear Beccles Community,

It won’t surprise those of you that know me well, (of which there are many), that I am renowned at work for being a radical.

I have always been the first to try new systems, shake things up a bit.

A trendsetter in my prime, a mischievous rule breaker, and a defender of patient and staffs rights in the latter part of my career. However, it is with sadness that I now set another trend of writing my own thank you and farewell letter to the great people of Beccles.

Usually when GPs retire, a sweet placating article is written about them; about their career and their dedication to the Health Service. Alas, due to unforeseen circumstances, I find myself in front of my computer, writing to you all well in advance of what I intended.

I had planned on retiring from Beccles Medical Centre in 2023, just as I turned the youthful age of 65. However, it turns out that there were other plans ahead for me, and very recently and quite unexpectedly I was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, this diagnosis has come quite late in the day as I had been quite oblivious to the signs, so this letter to you all has been written rather prematurely.

Firstly, I would like to genuinely thank the people of Beccles for giving me a wonderful career since I first came through the doors back in 1988. It has been an absolute privilege caring and looking after you all to the best of my ability for the past 3 decades, so thank you for your trust and for letting me into your lives.

Over 30 years of working at BMC it has been my pleasure to help create an incredibly supportive family of staff, who themselves have become a small village; dealing with their own life challenges, medical issues, bereavements and new lives. My neighbours will testify to noisy Summer parties that were oh so much fun, and I have enjoyed every silly moment with them. We are a family.

The team at BMC have always strived to please patients and the medical team alike, currently an unenviable task in this NHS climate.

The demands on the surgery have escalated enormously since I first started. Back in 1988 it was 24 patients a day, all face to face, maybe 2 home visits and prescriptions were all hand written and collected.

Compare that to a world where a list of 100 patients a day is normal, with a mixture of telephone, video consult and face to face, all whilst the surgery is open 7 days a week. It is no word of a lie to tell you that for the last few years, my working day has been a solid 12 hour day, in order for me to ensure as many people were responded to and as quickly as they could be.

This is not a call for sympathy but I would plead tolerance for those who will remain at the practice, for the incredibly hard work that they do and for those following in my footsteps. Everyone is doing their very best.

And thus, it is with a very heavy heart that I tell you that I feel I am abandoning Beccles Medical Centre and my patients far too prematurely. And I apologise. There are some who would say I have spent far too much time at work over the years, but I have loved (nearly!) every minute of it.

From the first day I came to Beccles, I knew this was my destiny. The view across the Waveney from Ballygate; The warmth of the embrace of the town; The gratitude of my medical support and insight.

I look forward to seeing you around town, no longer with my invisible white Doctors coat and stethoscope, but as your neighbour, free range egg provider and friend.

Thank you Beccles,

Glenn, formerly known as Dr Glenn Collins of Beccles Medical Centre

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