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in hospitals out into the community.

“Big hospitals need to do what they do – if you need a heart bypass that’s where you go, but if you need some investigation, that could be delivered close to home. Another example is follow up appointments after small operations. Patients travel all the way back to Torbay or Derriford hospitals to be asked how they feel and told they don’t need to be seen again. Each appointment costs the health service £140. In theory if we save that money by carrying out that service here, we can reinvest it for the benefit of local patients.” Dartmouth’s portfolio practice and its thriving com-

munity, including the hospital, make it a perfect fit for the reforms, in Dr Lockerbie’s opinion: “We will be commissioning the hospital’s services, ie buying the services that it provides. We already work closely with the hospital, but I think to make it work better for the community it needs fewer beds, used more intensively. A lot of the care currently given in the hospital could be shifted into patients’ homes and GP care. That is the big untapped service – keeping people in their own homes for as long as possible.” If organising Dartmouth’s health care at a local level appeals to Dr Lockerbie and his colleagues, do they support the mumblings that the surgery would be better placed at the top of the town? “One of my life ambitions is to move the practice to the top of the town,” Graham said. “I have been trying for 10 years, and we have been ready to go for the last four. We were on the cusp of moving when the PCTs in Devon were merged and suddenly Dartmouth was no longer a priority. It went completely off the radar. Maybe the Big Society can help. Almost all the health care need is in Townstal, which is one of the most deprived areas in Devon. More than 50 per cent of our population lives there, and the majority of our health care need is there too.” Graham’s not keen on opening a branch surgery there, but acknowledges it could work if the new surgery became the most popular, and the Victoria Road building became the branch. Here is a man who fights for what he believes in and doesn’t like to lose – which brings us back to judo and the revelation that this Dundee University educated medical professional, who’s worked in Shrewsbury, Lanarkshire, Oldham, Wales and Barnstaple before coming to Dartmouth, is a brown belt in judo, and regrets not accepting a black.

“My sons Will and Jamie were keen to learn so I took them along to judo club and the instructor said I would have to get on the mat as well. I was pretty reluctant but found I quickly learned what I had to do,

and by the end of the session I was hooked.” The boys (Graham and his wife Sue, who live in

Patients travel all the way back to

Torbay or Derriford hospitals to be asked how they feel and told they don’t need to be seen again. Each appointment costs the health service £140.

Dartmouth, have six children between them) lost their enthusiasm for the sport as teenagers, but Graham fought at competition level – even against the Russian Army: “I was in Ilfracombe and was taken on by a pretty young woman who turned out to be a coach for the Russian National Army. She completely ripped the arm off my jacket then looked at me in disgust and spat on the floor.” The British Judo Council offered him a black belt at teaching level. Too proud to accept a belt that was not at fighting level, Graham turned it down. “I wish now that I had it!” he said. This Glasgow boy always wanted to be a doctor, and admits his ambition probably came from early episodes of Doctor In The House on television. “I thought it was great but it gave me com- pletely the wrong impression!” There are no other medics in the family – his great great grandfather was a miner, his grand- father worked in the shipyards and his father flew Lancaster bombers in the War before heading to Strathclyde University and becoming a steel works manager, at one time managing the biggest in the

“One of my life ambitions is to move the practice to the top of the town”

country, at Ravenscraig. Graham hasn’t done judo for a while but still enjoys five-a-side football and a round of golf. In the past he’s played football for Stoke Fleming and Dittisham. This doctor loves his job as a GP. He recognises the profession is changing, but for the better: “The difficult thing is that General Practice has not expanded here in the same way that consultancy has. There are way more consultants than GPs in Devon – but the number of GPs remains the same as it was when I first came here. “Thankfully there are huge amounts of GPs in the pipeline. The job is changing and so are the GPs – 60 per cent of those coming through now are female. Lots want to work part time because they want to balance work and family life commitments. A lot of GPs are realising that this is a job they can do well part time – maybe working as a GP for part of the week and doing something else the rest of the time. We’re seeing a dramatic

change – when I started there were only men, working full time the way they always had, and patients were happy to sit and wait for as long as it took their doctor to be ready to see them. “Now, quite rightly, patients’ expectations are higher, and for us to respond and adapt we need an increase in resources. In theory then we can reinvest more money into local health care, in the way we want to, and our community needs.”•


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