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Acle GP retires

PUBLISHED: 11:25 01 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:17 03 July 2010

AN Acle GP has finally hung up his stethoscope after 42 years in the profession - with only two and a half days off sick.

Dr Nick Ireland, who left Acle Medical Centre ahead of his 67th birthday today, said: "My abiding memory of almost 40 years at the practice is of the lovely, friendly patients round here.

AN Acle GP has finally hung up his stethoscope after 42 years in the profession - with only two and a half days off sick.

Dr Nick Ireland, who left Acle Medical Centre ahead of his 67th birthday today, said: “My abiding memory of almost 40 years at the practice is of the lovely, friendly patients round here.

“I have been so lucky living and working in Acle and Reedham with congenial partners and fantastic staff. I shall really miss everyone.”

Dr Ireland, who lives in a 400-year-old farmhouse in nearby Freethorpe, praised the unending support of his wife Ann, especially during the earlier years when a doctor's life was “much tougher”.

He said: “She was a nurse and we met over a patient in the orthopaedic department of London's St Bartholomew's Hospital while I was doing my training.

“She has been the most wonderful support and it was very tough for her in the early stages when I was on call alternate nights.

“From the outset, my partner told me that if you were called out at night it was far better to go and not to argue. Patients are sometimes insecure and need reassurance that everything is normal.”

Dr Ireland recalls that when he arrived at the practice, then in Old Road, there were only two doctors and two receptionists, no nurses and only one midwife. “I had to do all my own dressings and life was certainly very hectic,” he said.

Now based in Bridewell Lane, the practice had since grown to six GPs, five practice nurses, two health care assistants and 25 support staff.

He said his good sickness record was partly down to robust health and partly due to struggling into work when ill.

He said: “Of the two full days I had to go off sick, one was the result of a dental abscess and the other was when my wife and I had a terrible stomach upset travelling back from Wales. She went into premature labour and I had to ring my partner and say I could not possibly come into work.”

As well as working as a GP, Dr Ireland has also specialised in orthopaedic medicine to help people with musculoskeletal problems, sharing his skills with other doctors on orthopaedic medicine courses across the UK.

Dr Ireland has two grown-up children and has been followed into medicine by his daughter Jessica, a nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

After a well-earned holiday in the South of France, he will have two hip replacements in August. Patients are likely to see him again as a locum.

Dr Ireland has a passion for trekking and has visited Nepal six times, but equally loves the flatter landscape of his home county where he plans to stay during retirement.

Practice manager Grace York described him as a “fantastic individual both as a health professional and a friend”.

She said: “His commitment to helping the people of Norfolk is immense and his own sickness record is very impressive.”

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