In December 2015, Dr Waqar Cheema rose to the challenge of taking over a single handed GP practice in Drymen, which had been managed by NHS Forth Valley on a temporary basis. His verdict to-date: “It’s going good!”
Just off the village square, Drymen Health Centre provides a warm and comfy welcome for the 1400 patients registered with the practice. It’s the baby of Dr Cheema, who carried out several stints there last year as a locum GP.
“It’s a lovely area to work in” he says. I knew taking over the practice single-handed would be a challenge but I thought it would be a nice thing to do as patients didn’t have a permanent GP. It’s going good. I’m settling in and getting to know my patients and their families and it’s good to be able to give continuity of care.”
The health centre may be small, but it provides a wide range of services. In addition to a receptionist, there’s a practice manager and a practice nurse. District nurses are on hand for tasks such as ear syringing, wound dressings, removal of stitches and home visits. There is a podiatry clinic and health visitors also hold clinics in the Centre. A palliative care team from Strathcarron Hospice are available to lend a helping hand, and counsellors who can offer therapy.
Dr Cheema, who worked in a hospital in Paisley and then as a GP in Glasgow, says the workload is manageable and he fits in house calls between morning and afternoon surgeries. When he is on holiday or study leave, he plans to employ a locum doctor to provide cover.
He said: “I have no regrets about taking over this practice. The biggest challenge is doing everything on your own but in a nice way. It’s obviously easier to get time off when there are other doctors in a practice but it’s good to make decisions on your own.”
The practice, which formerly had open surgeries in the mornings, now operates on an appointment basis, and receptionist Katherine Macnally says the new system means people are not having to sit around and wait to be seen.
She said: “The feedback from patients has been very good. I’ve been speaking to the local librarian and they are hearing good things as well. Everyone is so delighted to have a permanent doctor and he is so nice and pleasant.”