Retirement is just what the doctor ordered

Just Regional
May 3, 2024 4 mins read

A family doctor has retired after a 33-year career of care, changes and training the next generation of GPs.
Dr Peter Lawson joined Aylsham’s Market Surgery as a partner in 1990 when it had four partners and 7,500 patients, and was based in the Market Place near the church.

Dr Peter Lawson relaxing with his dog at home

At Easter he retired, aged 62, from the relocated surgery on Norwich Road, which has grown to seven partners and 10,000 patients where he rose to be senior partner.
Five of the current partners are GPs he helped tutor in the health hub’s role as a training practice.
“That’s one of things I am most proud of,” said Peter, who has packed a lot into his career in medicine.
It was a work experience session during his school sixth form days, with a GP near the family home in Suffolk, which provided the spark for his three decades in medicine.
“I had a lovely day driving around the countryside seeing patients and it was something I always wanted to do,” he explained.
During 10 years’ training at university, and working alongside GPs in surgeries and hospitals, he also spent seven months in Australia working for a GP out of hours service in Brisbane and Adelaide in 1989.
When he moved to Aylsham “being a GP was a popular choice and there were 80 applicants for the job” he recalled.
“My first daughter was due to be born on the day of the interview but luckily she held on until a few days later.”
Peter remembers fondly the early days at Aylsham – which included being on calls some nights and weekends.
“I had to take a pile of 10ps on night call duty. I had a bleeper but had to locate a phone to respond to it which meant finding a phone box, borrowing one at a patient’s home, or just knocking on people’s doors. We had early mobile phones the size of a brick but they did not work in many places.
“The care was much more personal because we saw the same people more often whereas these days people want to be seen as quickly as possible and don’t mind who by. Today there is a lot more bureaucracy and administration.”
He also used to visit patients at St Michael’s Hospital in town, both at its minor injuries unit and on the wards. And he even took his very young daughters Hannah and Katie, now in their 30s, dressed as fairies on Christmas Day to visit patients and carve the turkey.
Peter’s other achievements include setting up the North East Norfolk out-of-hours cooperative, based at North Walsham Hospital, in 1994.
He did another 10-month exchange to Australia in 1998/99, this time with his family. His tutoring included working with university medical students from the UEA where he became an Honorary Associate Professor, and from Cambridge.
He has served on the local medical committee for 15 years, which provides a forum and voice for 105 GP practices across Norfolk and Waveney, and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of GPs in November.
Peter chairs the North Norfolk Primary Care company which provides GP cover in all the county’s main hospitals and runs the walk-in centre at Norwich.
Retirement will be equally busy for Peter and his wife Carrie, a retired teacher from Aldborough school. He plans more cycling in Europe, tennis, and sailing from Morston and Suffolk, as well as walking Labrador puppy Molly.
He added: “I will really miss the people I have worked with over 33 years – and patients. It has been a privilege to look after several generations of the same families.”

FOND FAREWELL: : Dr Peter Lawson with surgery colleagues on his final day.

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