Lakeside GP Dr Peter Wilczynski is hanging up his stethoscope after a career treating thousands of Corby patients and putting the town at the forefront of the transformation of GP services.
Dr Wilczynski has been at the helm while the practice has grown from five consulting rooms on the top floor of the old Willlowbrook Health Centre to more than 85 partners serving 200,000 patients across nine sites.
The father-of-three says he is quitting while he is still at the top of his game, 36 years after he arrived in the town promising his wife it would only be a three-year stint.
At his retirement party on Friday at the Lakeside Surgery in Cottingham Road, colleagues gathered to hear Dr Wilczynski’s colleague Dr John Mellor talk about his ‘unique, energetic, fun-loving, supportive, forward-thinking, driven and loyal’ friend.
Dr Mellor spoke of how he arrived in Corby in 1986, two years after Dr Wilczynski had himself arrived in the town, and was shown around the surgery at ‘breakneck speed’, which was a sign of things to come.
“He’d already set about changing the practice for the future. His achievements have been amazing,” said Dr Mellor.
Dr Wilczynski was the chair of the Primary Care Trust and then the Corby Clinical Commissioning Group until 2014 when he stepped down to concentrate on turning Lakeside into the UK’s largest ‘super-practice’.
He was the chair of the Local Medical Committee and a pioneer of the local Keydoc out-of-hours service which Dr Mellor said had a ‘revolutionary effect on the work/life balance’ of local doctors who had been running their own out-of-hours service until then.
And perhaps most importantly to the town, Dr Wilczynski was at the forefront of creating Corby Urgent Care Centre which has helped save the lives of many Corby people and continues to be a huge success in the hands of new managers.
“That’s why, as you can see, we were breathless at that first encounter with Pete in 1986,” said Dr Mellor.
“I suspect he had it all worked out then!
“His greatest qualities are as a friend, a colleague and a family GP.
“Pete would be there for us in times of need, both in and outside of work.
“Pete’s many patients will tell you how supportive he’s been over the years.
“I know many of them have his mobile telephone number to ask for help whenever they need it.”
Dr Wilczynski became a GP in Corby straight after finishing his training at Kettering General Hospital. He said: “I promised Sue that we’d be here for three years and we’d go back to Redhill.
“Then I fell in love with Corby.”
He spoke of the five senior partners who had been working in the practice with no new partners for eighteen years until he arrived. Over the following five years they all retired and Dr Wilczynski was left in charge.
“It was a very different ball game back then,” said Dr Wilczynski.
“The wives would have to stay at home and answer the phones and we would be bleeped if there were out-of-hours calls.
“We got to know every telephone box in Corby.
“I still remember the three ladies who did the prescriptions, smoking, handwriting every single prescription.
“I am going to miss everyone dreadfully. I’ll have a new way of life and a new opportunity.”
Dr Wilczynski will now spend time in Spain while enjoying his hobbies which include golf and camper vans.
As a tribute to their colleague, staff have named a conference room after Dr Wilczynski.