Retiring Norfolk GP criticises target driven NHS culture

Dr Philip Leftley outside the surgery in Pulham Market from where he is retiring.

Dr Philip Leftley outside the surgery in Pulham Market from where he is retiring. - Credit: Archant

A retiring Norfolk doctor has criticised changes within the NHS towards a more target-driven culture which have partly influenced his decision to leave the profession.

Dr Philip Leftley, 62, who practices at Church Hill surgery in Pulham Market, believed the need to stay within financial budgets was being put before patient care, adding this had influenced his decision to make tomorrow his final day at the surgery after 35 years, along with a desire to spend more time with his family and pursue hobbies.

He said: 'I have always been very positive about being patient centred, about what is right for this patient at this time, but nowadays you have to think about is this permissible? Is this affordable? and evidence base it and that is not a way that I like to work.'

He added: 'I will miss many things about the surgery, but it is the right time and I am actually relieved to be going in a way. The changes I don't feel are going to improve patient care.'

The former Diss Grammar School also wants to spend more time with his son Ralph, four and to pursue other interests, including learning how to play the bassoon, sailing, music and travel.

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He did his first surgery at Pulham Market as locum for Dr Patrick Rawlence in 1975, having studied medicine at Sheffield University and in August 1977 he joined the practice as an assistant before becoming a partner in January 1978.

At the time the surgery was based in the Brewhouse but when Dr Rawlence retired in 1981, Dr Leftley moved with new practice partner Dr Peter Rowan to Falcon Road, where they worked for 17 years, before moving to the current purpose-built surgery in Station Road.

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In January 1989, Dr Leftley took sabbatical leave to work with the homeless in Leeds, providing medical care in hostels and shelters before returning to Pulham in December 1990.

In 2003, he marked his silver jubilee with an open day at the surgery celebrating traditional family doctor values and patient centred care and in 2004 the surgery team was joined by Dr Adrianne Hartley-Booth and Paul Wisdom.

Last year, he was appointed a medical member of the Tribunals Service, which hears benefit claims cases.

One of his strongest memories was of being an on-call doctor and visiting a heart patient in driving snow, which forced him to have to abandon his car on his way home and walk the rest of the way. However, when he returned to see the patient the next day he was pleased to see his condition had improved.

He will be meeting his friends and patients in Pulham Market Memorial Hall between 2pm and 4pm on his last day this Thursday for tea and cake and to share memories.

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