A much-loved Buckingham GP is hanging up his stethoscope after 36 and a half years.
It was October 1976 when Dr Roger Harrington joined Drs Chris Brown, Mike Spencer and Rob Woodroffe at North End Surgery.
Now aged 64, senior partner Dr Harrington holds his last surgery next Wednesday and is set to retire on March 31. He will hand over the reins to Dr Greg Simons.
Dr Harrington, who lives in Whittlebury with his partner, Sally Howell, spoke about the changes he has seen during his long career.
On the positive side, he listed new drugs, new technologies and day care surgery.
He said: “There’s far better treatments for cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Also, I can get people seen urgently if I suspect they’ve got cancer or heart disease.
“People are surviving cancer longer. It isn’t the doom and gloom it was 40 years ago. Children are surviving childhood leukaemia.
“And I think people’s understanding about their health is better. Unfortunately, obesity is a problem.
“I suppose we’re seeing more the diseases of affluence – heart disease, diabetes, obesity, raised blood pressure.”
But the greatest changes have been to the NHS.
“I think it’s a struggling service,” said Dr Harrington.
Dr Harrington leaves the NHS on the eve of GP commissioning going live in April.
He said: “I think the concept of GPs choosing the services they want for their patients locally is sound.
“But will we be able to do what we want? GP s will have control of 80 per cent of NHS budget but at the end of the day there’s not enough money in the system.
“The two hallmarks of good general practice are trust and continuity, but the system is against that now.
“It just is a much tougher world out there to be the advocate of one’s patients.”
Dr Harrington is not planning to be idle in retirement.
He will continue as president of the League of Friends of Buckingham Hospital and, as the newly elected chairman of the Buckingham General Charities, will be overseeing the £500,000 refurbishment of the almshouses.
He has been co-opted to Whittlebury Parish Council and is on the working group for the rebuilding/refurbishment of the Reading Room.
He will carry on doing GP appraisals for the next year and hopes to see more of his two grandsons, spend more time on the golf course and give more support to Buckingham Rugby Club, of which he is a vice-president.
Looking back on his career, he said: “I’d like to think I could look back on 36 years and say I’ve become wiser and more experienced. To accrue wisdom is quite important.
“If anyone said to me: ‘Would you do the same again?’ I’d say: ‘Absolutely, incontrovertibly, without a shadow of doubt.’
“The real joy has been the people I count as more than patients – they are friends.”
North End Surgery will be holding an evening event in April for patients to say goodbye to Dr Harrington.
Contact the surgery on 01280 818600 for details.