Downland News – Dr James Cave

I start this update with some bad news. Dr Ben Curtis, who has been a partner for over 10 years will be leaving us in July. Ben is looking to have a change in career, and we wish him well. There will be a book at reception in Chieveley later in the month if you wish to leave a few words for him.

Which brings me onto another piece of bad news. Sanjay Shah, our pharmacist has resigned. We are very sorry to see him go as he was instrumental in improving both the pharmacy and the dispensary. We have started the recruitment process and, in the meantime, will continue to run dispensing at both Chieveley and Compton. However, there may be days when we are unable to find a locum pharmacist, and this will seriously impact on our service. Just like GPs there is currently a shortage of Pharmacists too!

We are pleased to welcome Dr Tosin Akin-Komolafe, Mike Essery and Debbie White to the team this month.  Dr Akin will be taking on most of Dr Haider’s work. Many of you will have met her before as Tosin has worked for us in the past.  Mike is a paramedic with decades of experience and joins us to help with the demand for on the day urgent appointments. He will work with the duty doctor in dealing with all our on the day demand. Our commitment to see anyone that feels their problem is urgent on the day has become increasingly difficult. In the last 6 months one in 7 days on average have seen the duty doctor struggling to see over 40 patients. (The BMA suggests that seeing over 35 patients in a day is unsafe). The stress of duty doctor is a major factor in GP burnout, and we are hopeful that Mike’s intervention will take off some of that heat. We still ask people to think about their needs carefully and consider taking advice from online sites such as NHS.UK, other healthcare professionals (such as Pharmacists) or a trusted friend/family member before calling for an urgent appointment.  Debbie Green is a very experienced senior nurse who will be joining us to fill the gap left by the retirement of Meryl Peckham.


The last year has reminded us of the power of vaccinations in preventing serious disease. Perhaps it is time to remind ourselves that there are still other diseases out there that can be prevented by immunisations. In 2021 over 150 admissions to hospital were caused by diphtheria, mumps, measles, and whooping cough. Now many of you are old enough to remember the days before we had vaccinations and will recall “measles parties “. What we forget is that in the 1960s about 6000 children died each year from measles. In addition to the short-term impact of these diseases- which can all be fatal- several of them can leave people damaged after the infection. In the case of German Measles (Rubella) an infection during pregnancy can cause deafness in the unborn child.

Over the coming months we plan to revitalise our immunisation program particularly focusing on the following:
MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps and Rubella).

Pneumococcal vaccine (protects against pneumonia).

Shingles vaccine.

If you receive a reminder from us in the coming months for a jab, please don’t ignore it. I know you may be tired of having a sore arm, but it might just save your life!