Ripley doctor looks back on 40 years as family GP

A family doctor is hanging up his stethoscope after 40 years with the same GP practice.

By Gay Bolton
Thursday, 4th November 2021, 11:12 pm
Dr Wordley at his retirement party.
Dr Wordley at his retirement party.

Dr Tony Wordley, who is senior partner at Ivy Grove Surgery in Ripley, will retire on Wednesday next week, bringing to a close a career in which he has seen more than 200,000 patients.

He said: “I relish being part of an ongoing family situation where you treated three or four generations of the same family. With changes in the NHS and the way we work it’s not as easy as it used to be. Thirty or forty years ago people would have a family doctor and they would always see that one doctor. Now we work in larger groups and it’s not quite so consistent although we try to maintain continuity.

"Life was a lot simpler in the old days. We used to see people with sore throats and write tonsillitis, penicillin – two words on a card. Nowadays you have to write in the notes exactly how they feel about it, how long they’ve had it, what it looks like and all the observations. Record keeping is rather different these days.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Original surgery which was pulled down in 1981 to make way for a Co-op superstore.

“When mobile phones came in they were very large, heavy and so expensive that we could only afford one for the on-call doctor. How things have changed!

"People submit online requests for consultations, particularly since Covid. There is much more online prescribing, video consultation, people sending in photos of their rashes. The job is much easier if people come in, sit down and tell you about their problems. You can look at them, see how they are behaving and examine them if they need it. It’s far more difficult to do all that on the phone.

"After a year of Covid I am convinced that now is the right time to go. Not many GPs last until 65, they usually retire in their late fifties. I don’t get too stressed and am able to cope so I’ve carried on."

Despite the changes to working practices, Dr Wordley said job satisfaction comes from doing the best for every patient. He said: “I have had the honour of looking after so many lovely families over the years. I will miss the charming and grateful patients.”

Dr Wordley arrived in Ripley in August 1980 as a newly-married trainee with his wife Hilary, who is a GP in Nottingham. The couple lived in an upstairs room at the old surgery in Derby Road as their house wasn’t ready to move into.

Six months’ work at the maternity unit in Derby prepared Dr Wordley for supervising deliveries at Babington Hospital in Belper where he would occasionally get called out in the middle of the night. He said: “People had their babies there, usually they would be OK but occasionally we would get calls when they were worried. I didn’t have to do emergency work with a pair of forceps, I just had to check the baby and do the stitching up of the mother.”

Soon after Dr Wordley’s arrival in Ripley, the surgery relocated to new premises across the road at the top of Ivy Grove. That surgery served the community until it was outgrown, forcing a move to the present large building, still known as Ivy Grove Surgery, in Steeple Drive.

Dr Wordley said: “The surgery has grown from a few rooms in an old house on Derby Road, with three doctors, two receptionists and a secretary, to the team of nine GPs and 30+ staff in a modern building – even though the number of patients we look after is much the same!”

He said he owed his career to Drs Aspinall, Cox and Jones who had the confidence to give him a permanent job when he arrived as an inexperienced trainee.

“Above all it is the superbly friendly, loyal and dedicated team of people who work here that make the job possible, and I will miss them all.”

A socially distanced retirement party was held in the surgery waiting room last week, with past colleagues and retired nurses joining in on a big TV screen via Zoom.

Colleagues presented Dr Wordley with an electric bike which will get a lot of use in his retirement. He said: “I’d like to be a lot fitter in five years time than I am now.”

He will also be gardening at his home in Alderwasley, near Wirksworth, where he’s hoping to host a barbecue garden party on the first weekend after lockdown ends in June.

A keen classic car enthusiast, Dr Wordley says is looking forward to spending his additional leisure time tinkering with the three old vehicles that he owns.

He will also be visiting his daughters, Alice who is an A&E doctor in Plymouth, and Lucy, a solicitor in London, who has two boys aged 1 and 3 years.

When asked if there’s anything on his bucket list, Dr Wordley said that he would like to sail across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary and then fly back, adding: “Perhaps we’ll do that when we are 70.”

A message from Phil Bramley, Derbyshire TImes Editor

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper.