Luton GP bids adieu after 35 years treating families in town

A Luton general practitioner is finally hanging up his stethoscope after 35 years of looking after patients in the town.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 6:33 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 6:38 pm

Dr Julian Marsden worked his final shift at Woodland Avenue Practice today (Friday), where he was a partner.

The GP has treated generations of families in Luton, as well as training many other GPs during his career.

"I'm leaving with a huge feeling of satisfaction and I'm very proud to have worked in the practice for all of these years," said Dr Marsden.

Dr Julian Marsden retires from Woodland Avenue Practice today (Friday) after 35 years in Luton

"The nice thing about being a GP is getting to know your patients on a more personal level. You eventually get to see whole generations of the same family - that's different from hospital medicine where you see people for about half an hour.

"I'm only 63 and I hope to still make some modest contribution to healthcare.

"So, it's been a very good 35 years and I wouldn't change any part of it - although I am still looking forward to retirement!"

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant Dr Marsden's final year in practice has been one of his busiest, carrying out hundreds of online consultations as well as working on the vaccine programme.

"It's caused massive changes," he said. "Particularly, we've had to work in a more isolated way and that has been difficult for me to adjust to - because I'm so used to seeing patients face to face.

"But for many people, it's very convenient, particularly if they are at work. They can buy devices to check their blood pressure and read those out over the phone."

Dr Marsden grew up in Cheshire and studied medicine at the University of Liverpool, before training as a GP in Watford in the 1980s. There, his mentors included Dr Roger Neighbour, author of The Inner Consultation (1987) - a definitive guide to carrying out consultations for many doctors.

"It was a very inspiring time but it was quite competitive to get involved in general practice," said Dr Marsden.

"I was in Watford with my wife and baby son, who was only about six weeks old, and we wanted to stay in the north Thames area.

"There were 150 other applicants for my first GP placement in Luton. Things have definitely changed - we advertised a placement a few years ago and there were just seven applications - two of those were doctors based abroad.

"But I think general practice is getting more popular again.

"The idea of going into a GP partnership is a big commitment for a young doctor, it's a bit like getting married! Typically, you'll buy into a practice with a freehold on the building, and that's a big step at a time when, perhaps, you're just buying your first home.

"I also think it's not unreasonable for young doctors to want to spend a year or two working as locums and travelling around different areas.

"But in my day, people usually went straight into a practice when they qualified."

Dr Marsden spent 16 years as the training director for Luton's GP trainee programme.

He said: "One of the pleasures about that is that many of the younger GPs now working in Luton trained with me and my colleague Raj Khanchandani.

"I’m impressed with the enthusiasm and vitality of these younger GPs!"

Outside of general practice, Dr Marsden has helped run bereavement workshops for mental health charity CHUMS, and plans to continue volunteering for the charity. He has also signed up to the Results Coaching Global (RCG) mentoring scheme, to support young doctors.

"I'm looking forward to playing more tennis and golf, and going to the gym again," he said.

"And Luton Music runs a fabulous weekly concert called Music on Mondays. I play in a classical string quartet but it's been held back because of lockdown!"

On a final note, Dr Marsden added: "I should take this opportunity to say I hope people will take up the offer to get vaccinated.

"I understand some people are nervous, but here in the UK, we have given out millions of doses and we're in a far better position than any other country to say just how safe it is.

"It's important to make sure people get vaccinated to keep themselves and their families safe."