Life in a real Peak practice

Dr Louise Jordan - star of new BBC programme The Real Peak Practice, which focuses on Baslow Health Centre.

Dr Louise Jordan - star of new BBC programme The Real Peak Practice, which focuses on Baslow Health Centre.

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The Peak District would seem the perfect patch for a GP - a rural idyll where the pace of life is a little less pressured.

But in reality, countryside practices present their own tough challenges, as well as facing just the same issues as city surgeries.

The long game, I now realise, is that I’m there to be on people’s journey and that’s very powerful

Dr Louise Jordan

Dr Louise Jordan’s practice, Baslow Health Centre, prides itself on keeping patients to stay at home rather then sending them to hospital, but staff there are under more strain than ever before.

The number of doctors’ visits per patient is on the increase, and the Peaks has one of the highest proportions of elderly patients in England.

Many of these older patients have long-term, chronic conditions which require constant monitoring.

So to illustrate the difficulties faced in Baslow, Dr Jordan and her fellow medics agreed to be filmed for a new, two-part television programme, called The Real Peak Practice.

The show’s production team spent a year following the health centre’s doctors, nurses and patients, capturing everyday struggles as well as appointments with some familiar local patients, including Lord Roy Hattersley, who lives in Great Longstone and visited Dr Jordan after falling outside the House of Lords.

A visit is also paid to the bedside of Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, shortly before her death last September, and narration comes from Grindleford-born actor Dominic West.

The practice was approached 18 months ago to take part in the documentary. Being shadowed by the crew initially felt ‘unusual’, but soon became second nature, said Dr Jordan.

“As a rural practice it’s important for us to know all our patients and really give them bespoke care. Some people say that’s a luxury, but we’re determined to carry on doing it.”

Baslow Health Centre has 4,500 patients on its books - a figure which is on the small side for a rural practice, Dr Jordan admits. But conversely, its five-mile catchment area is ‘quite challenging at times’.

Patients’ lifestyles range from extreme wealth to ‘rural deprivation’, while another surprise is the difficulty Baslow faces in recruiting a third GP partner.

“Young doctors don’t want to come into partnership. They don’t want the financial risk and think it’s a burdensome commitment.”

A GP for 30 years, Dr Jordan moved to Baslow two decades ago after working in Northumbria.

The 53-year-old, who has two grown-up sons, was a founding trustee of the Helen’s Trust charity, which helps terminally ill people. In the programme she speaks movingly about caring for her husband of 26 years, Nigel, who died at home of a brain tumour in 2011 aged 51.

She added: “The long game, I now realise, is that I’m there to be on people’s journey and that’s very powerful.”

n The Real Peak Practice is broadcast tonight and next Thursday on BBC One Yorkshire at 7pm.