Dr Tony Hillier, a GP at Blisworth Surgery from 1978 until he retired in 2015, described the evolution of Surgery and the many changes it underwent due to changes in demographics, diseases, funding and legislation.
At the time of the NHS starting in 1948, the GP was Dr William Clements and his consulting room was located in a corrugated shed behind Grafton Villas, beside the railway embankment. It was very basic with a folding examination bed hinged to the wall. There was a small dispensary, although most medicines were placebo’s, the assumption being that patients would, with time, get better! Doctors were expected to pay for improvements themselves. Appointments weren’t required and home visits were requested by knocking on the door. Dr Clements drove a Riley, replacing the pony and trap. Hours were long, with 10-20 home visits made each day. Today, 20 per week is high.
In 1964 the surgery moved to new premises in Blisworth with a waiting room, administrative staff and 4,000 patients. Dr Derek Bull was the GP. Following a revue of general practice by the BMA around this time, funding became available for practice development-improvements to premises, amalgamation of practices, doctors renumeration and pay available for a receptionist; previously admin tasks were completed by the doctors wife.
By 1978, Blisworth and Roade practices had 5 doctors and a list of 11,000 patients.
In 1985, having outgrown their premises, building of Park Slopes in Stoke Road started. Many changes were taking place. General practice was growing rapidly (although funding wasn’t) as it was increasingly used to manage medical conditions, computerisation was in it’s infancy and doctors wore pagers. An extension was added in 1999. Over 100 applications were received for a replacement post; today this would commonly be in single figures.
Since then, general practice has become increasingly bureaucratic, computerised and micro managed, with less funding. Long hours have made practice unsafe and many doctors have left the profession.