A much-loved GP retiring today (Friday) after 32 years of caring for patients says he has been overwhelmed by goodwill messages he has received.
Oakham medical practice announced the retirement of Dr Tim Gray a few weeks ago.
Dr Gray, who has been working part-time for the past three years, admits to feeling a bit sad at stepping down.
“It hasn’t been a nine-to-five job, it has been a way of life and naturally I’m feeling a little apprehensive at it coming to an end,” he said this week.
Originally from Nottingham, he trained at King’s College Hospital in London, where his father had been a surgeon and his daughter Claire now works as an accident and emergency doctor.
He always wanted to be a GP and in 1980 was delighted to be given a job at Oakham’s only medical practice which was then in Burley Road.
“It was a four-man practice and I was the fifth partner. We had 10 to 11,000 patients, one senior receptionist, a manager and a secretary.
“The building wasn’t purpose-built and there was no central heating.
“Some of the surgeries had gas fires and some rooms had no heating at all.”
In contrast, the practice today in Cold Overton Road has almost 17,000 patients, 11 doctors, 12 nurses and 35 administration staff.
In the 1980s GPs did their own night-time and weekend cover.
“We also plastered broken bones, delivered babies at the Rutland Memorial Hospital and assisted consultants with operations,” he said.
“ The nature of what we do now has changed beyond all recognition.
“There is a huge amount of preventative medicine now and lots of things that were done in hospital are now done by GPs. And that means an enormous amount of administration.”
But what he fears is that the traditional role of the family doctor will disappear from rural areas as it has already done from cities which have walk-in centres and doctors without their own personalised patient list.
During more than three decades of service Dr Gray has looked after several generations of people, often now treating the children and even the grandchildren of the babies he once delivered.
“It has been a great job, I’ve so enjoyed being a GP although I won’t say all of it has been fantastic,” he said.
He admitted to never being good at handling all the politically motivated changes within the NHS.
“Governments like to change things and I don’t think all the changes have been good.
“The worst part of the health service is its political agenda - each government that comes in thinks it has to do something and as each change gets up and running another lot come in and change things again.”
Dr Gray also founded and chaired the Rutland Accident Care Scheme in 1984 and this became the East Midlands Immediate Care Scheme in 1998. It was for this work he was granted an MBE in 2004.
He plans to carry on responding to emergencies and with fundraising for the charity.
“I will carry on until July, when Major Leon Roberts will move into Kendrew Barracks as senior medical officer and take over,” he said.
He said that without the support of the community the scheme would never have got off the ground.
“It is a true charity - nobody takes any financial reward,” he said.
“All the money raised is used to purchase and maintain equipment.”
Dr Gray said he had been very fortunate to have worked with a great bunch of colleagues.
“I have got to know some really super people over the years and I will miss my patients,” he said.
His daughter Jodie Gray, senior international manager at language teaching association English UK, said: “I remember his nights and weekends on call, with my mother taking messages on a pad in the kitchen - and Christmas Days when my sister and I would go with him to the hospital to help serve a turkey dinner to patients on the wards.”
Jodie and Claire are 31-year-old twins.
Dr Gray and his wife Annabelle are great walkers and gardeners and their large garden at Barleythorpe is used by the National Gardens Scheme for an open day once a year.
He is now planning to travel around parts of the UK with his wife and his beloved dog.
Dr Karen Bailey is taking over his list.