Story by Linda Jones and Carrie Hedderwick | Photo by Kate McCullough
Local GP Hugh McCullough will be retiring in June after working at Pitsmoor Surgery since 1985. He has enjoyed working in the area, “It’s been great, I’ve had a lovely career” – and his more than 30 years’ service is a wonderful testament to his commitment to the community.
When he first arrived, the practice was located in the building that now houses the Dental Practice on Minna Road. There were four doctors at that time, with three consulting rooms, and a small reception area. If it was busy, patients often ended up sitting on the stairs while waiting for their appointment! Things have changed a lot in Hugh’s time. In 1985 records and prescriptions were hand written.
As there were no practice nurses none of those services existed that we now take for granted, such as vaccination programmes, cervical screening, and specialist nurse clinics. Today this is made possible by a thriving work force of some 25, including receptionists, administrators, health care assistants and nurses.
Hugh told me that:
“Teamwork and dedication of all the staff are what makes the surgery responsive to the changing needs of the area.”
The proof of this dedication is the length of time staff remain working for the practice.
As Dr McCullough attends the Patient Participation Group regularly, we have got to appreciate his continual concern about the practice and his openness to suggestions for improvements. (Are you a patient? Would you like to join the group? Or would you like to be on a contact list for comments? Do let Karen Zaman at the surgery know).
It was only in 2000 that the practice was entitled to a ‘deprivation’ allowance. Prior to this, all areas were treated the same, despite huge health inequalities across the city. Funding is still a problem for GPs but Dr McCullough said that NHS England proposals to merge practices could have mixed consequences. Sharing the cost of administration and IT could be helpful, but mergers could also lead to doctors becoming more remote from their patients.
Another concern is that there are not enough trainee doctors coming into general practice. However, a promising development at Pitsmoor recently has meant that it now has a full time pharmacist, two nurse practitioners and several health care assistants. A new type of medical post is being created through the universities, where graduates with health related degrees can do a further two years of medical education to become a ‘physician associate.’
Dr McCullough repeated his enthusiasm for general practice – to be ‘generalist’ is to be holistic – looking at all the factors that contribute to people’s health and ill health. He told us:
“To know and follow my patients and their families over a period of years and to be with them through serious illness and life events has been a rare privilege.”
However although doctors can diagnose illness and prescribe remedies he does recognise that so much ill health is caused by poverty and wider societal problems.
Despite this, he is optimistic about the future of Pitsmoor Surgery – there are many good practitioners and a lot of diverse expertise and enthusiasm. He will miss working with a great group of people and will also miss his patients – many of whom are now old friends.
Dr. McCullough’s hobbies include gardening and woodwork and we wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement where he can pursue these at leisure. We would say to him too – we appreciate all your work – and do come back and see us sometime.
Pitsmoor Surgery will be hosting a farewell tea party for Hugh on Thursday 29th June at 2–3.30pm, where Hugh hopes to be able to say goodbye to any of his patients able to come.