'It has been an absolute delight' - GP retiring after 30 years serving town

Dr Gordon McAnsh has called time on his work and is set to retire on March 31

Dr Gordon McAnsh has called time on his work and is set to retire on March 31 after just over 30 years as a single partner at the centre. - Credit: Jan Wright

From delivering babies at home to working through a pandemic - it's certainly been an eventful 30-year career for a Norfolk GP.

But after three decades at a Wells’ practice, Dr Gordon McAnsh has called time on his career and is set to retire on March 31 as a partner at Wells Health Centre.

Born in Scotland in the village of Killearn, in the county of Stirlingshire, Dr McAnsh would go to University of St Andrews for his degree - before extending his education in Manchester.

He completed his training to become a GP in the town of Longridge, before moving to Norfolk, joining the centre back in 1991.

Staff at Wells Health Centre, along with Dr Gordon McAnsh (centre, bottom) next to him is Dr David Ince,

Staff at Wells Health Centre, along with Dr Gordon McAnsh (centre, bottom) next to him is Dr David Ince, one of the new Partners taking over. - Credit: Jan Wright

The 59-year-old knew once he arrived in Wells, he never wanted to leave.

“Why would you want to move out of Wells? Once I got here and knew I was happy here, I knew I wasn't going anywhere else," he said.

During his time as a GP, he said the industry has changed dramatically, especially around the number of appointments people have with their GP.

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“Back in 1991 the average person contact was three appointments a year, now it is 12,” he said.

“We are a lot busier now. When I first started, the surgery opened at 9.15am, and closed at 10.30am. We would then go to visits and do paperwork until lunch and go home, and then return to the surgery at 4.30pm, closing at 6.30pm.

Wells Health Centre, on Bolts Close in Wells-next-the-Sea.

Wells Health Centre, on Bolts Close in Wells-next-the-Sea. - Credit: Jan Wright

“Now, I am in at 8am, and it is flat out all day.

“I think that is down to the ageing population - older people have to see the doctor more often.

“Plus, general practice is dealing with more complex issues, stuff that, back in the 90s and 2000s would have been done at a hospital - someone with high blood pressure, their changes to their medicine would be done at the hospital, now it is done here, which takes up more time.”

He has also seen the rise of helping people with their mental health, particularly with teenagers and young people.

Dr McAnsh has had to learn on the job and top up his learning out of the practice or specific lectures, to keep up with the evolving world of health.

“I think throughout the year you learn on the job, and do more education out of the practice, on specific lectures or on the PC to continue that development of yourself,” Dr McAnsh added.

“Things change and you have to keep up with what is new in the job. I think it is a similar mindset, providing care for someone with a mental health issue, as it would with someone with a physical health problem, it's in your personality and how you practice.”

He has also seen his practice join a primary care network, where four practices work together and pull resources, such as sharing staff.

The practice of a GP was changed drastically and suddenly as a result of the pandemic.

While they were still providing face to face appointments to those who needed them, it shifted to be only 10pc of his work - with the majority taking place over phone calls or Teams.

Dr Gordon McAnsh said the industry has changed dramatically.

Dr Gordon McAnsh said the industry has changed dramatically. - Credit: Jan Wright

Right now, it is more 50/50 between patients in person, and by other methods.

Dr McAnsh said the very core of his work changed because of the restrictions: “It was so strange. The art of the practice is seeing people and gaining clues from them and how they are acting and reaction, that was far more difficult over the phone.”

However, it was this continuity of care that he has offered over his career that he will miss most.

“We are a traditional practice, and you tend to see the same person for every consolation, which gives you great continuity of care. I have seen and delivered babies at home who now have their own children,” he said.

“I’ll miss the patients hugely, and that is really quite a worry for me - but it is always going to come, so mentally, I am probably prepared for it, as much as you can be.

“I just like to say to my patients, it has been an absolute delight to look after them.”

As he settles into retirement, he has a lot of plans, especially with more long-distance travelling, as that has never really been a possibility as his role as a GP meant no more than a week was ever taken off at a time.

He plans to travel into Europe this year, and Africa at the beginning of next year.

He also would like to make more time for his passion for sailing and to play more golf.