A GP surgery in Blackburn is celebrating after managing to recruit a new GP partner to their practice.
Nationally, there are many GP surgeries struggling to recruit new GPs, but as the recent news has highlighted the town as being the best place in Britain to make a living, this might not be a problem for the town any more.
Husband and wife team Drs Mridul Kumar (MK) and Saroj Datta – now known as the Stepping Stone Practice – based in Audley Health Centre, managed to secure new partner Dr Harmeet Singh to their practice when he was working as a locum in the area.
When Dr MK Datta was required to carry out an appraisal on Dr Singh he saw this as the ideal opportunity and offered Dr Singh a job; first as a salaried GP and then earlier this summer offered him a partnership in the practice.
Dr Datta said: “I liked him and told him he needed to settle down. I saw a very conscientious man, one who I could share responsibility with, and who could gradually take over as my wife and I start to wind down towards retirement.
“I first persuaded him to take a job as a salaried GP but after around 18 months offered him a partnership in the practice. I wanted him to feel part of the team and felt that a partnership would give him ownership of the responsibility I was slowly giving him. I am very happy with him.”
Born in India, Dr Singh completed his medical education in Russia following an opportunity as part of an international exchange programme. Dr Singh, 43, moved to the UK in 2003 coming to the area in 2005 when he commenced his GP training through the North West Deanery, in Blackburn and Burnley.
Dr Singh said: “Since coming to the UK, I’ve worked in many different areas including prisons, GP out-of-hours, walk in centres, and triaged for NHS Direct. After five years being a GP though and with two young daughters I thought it was about time I settled down. So when Dr Datta offered me the position in his practice, the timing was perfect and I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Dr MK Datta is a skilled surgeon and has carried out minor operations in the district for the last 44 years. He is now also training Dr Singh in these procedures so when retirement finally does call Dr Datta, the knowledge and skill is still there for community-based surgery.
Dr Chris Clayton, a GP in Darwen and Clinical Chief Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The fact that we have trained and managed to keep such a highly qualified GP as Dr Singh is fantastic. It is really important that we continue to attract GPs to our region.
“As we saw in the news last week, Blackburn is the best place in the UK to make a living. I know we might not have the lowest unemployment figures or job growth than some other more ‘up-market’ towns, but we still beat them to be the best and our scenery and culture have also been taken into account.
“Whilst we have areas of high deprivation so do many other towns and cities across the country. As a CCG which commissions (plans and buys) local health services, we work hard, along with our partners such as the council and hospital trust, to address the issues this brings. I just hope other people including current and prospective residents and workers, see how great Blackburn with Darwen truly is.”
Left to right: Dr M K Datta, Dr S Datta, Dr H Singh