Dozens of patients and staff queued up this week to thank a “one of a kind” Bermondsey doctor who is retiring after twenty years in the neighbourhood.
Dr Alan Campion of the New Mill Street Surgery is leaving to move to Spain, leaving behind many admiring patients who lined up out the door of the surgery on Wolseley Street to say thank you and goodbye on Thursday (September 30).
Over tea and cake Dr Campion, who ran the surgery on his own for much of his tenure, thanked patients and staff, adding that “it’s been an honour and a privilege these last twenty years and to know you all.”
But he left with a warning about the future of the NHS, saying: “Bear in mind that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find doctors and nurses and we have been blessed over the years with some very good locums.
“Committing to an area, and when you know you’re going to be in that area for twenty years, it’s not just two bottoms on a seat over a table, it’s more than that.
Reflecting on the role of the GP Dr Campion said: “Primary care – I always wanted it to be that. It has its positives and its drawbacks. I’m reminded of [former US president] JFK’s thing on his table – the buck stops here.
“Because you have to know about the baby clinic, you have to know about the vaccination schedules, you have to know a little bit about everything. To be a generalist is, in many ways, a specialism that seems to be taking a battering again.”
Dr Campion added that he had moved to the surgery in the years following the rise to power of Tony Blair’s New Labour – hence the name ‘New Mill Street’. He ended his speech to staff and patients with a reflection on the state of the NHS, adapting the end of Blair’s final speech to the House of Commons.
“Although there’s a little bit of skulduggery going on it is really quite the most marvellous institution and full of high ideals. To all my friends and foes I wish them well, and that is that, the end.”
Dr Campion, originally from Derby, later told the News that he first got to know Bermondsey because “somebody would show him the smells that would come out of the walls of the wharves. It was fascinating… the next twenty years just seemed to roll by.”
He praised the diversity, the warmness and “real sense of community” of the area.
Speaking outside, several of Dr Campion’s patients praised him, with one saying: “He’s one of a kind. To be here for twenty years and totally devote himself to the community – it’s just amazing.”
The New Mill Street Surgery was rated as ‘good’ in the most recent report by the Care Quality Commission, but was previously called ‘inadequate’ after a 2017 inspection.
The surgery, which is also served by Dr Amrit Dugala, will still be taking patients after Dr Campion’s departure.