If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume you’re happy to receive all cookies from the BMA website. Find out more about cookies
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms.
You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.
These cookies are required
These cookies allow us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information we collect is anonymous unless you actively provide personal information to us.
If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you're in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for you.
For example, they can be used to remember certain log-in details, changes you've made to text size, font and other parts of pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you've asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. These cookies may be used to ensure that all our services and communications are relevant to you. The information these cookies collect cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
Without these cookies, a website cannot remember choices you've previously made or personalise your browsing experience meaning you would have to reset these for every visit. In addition, some functionality may not be available if this category is switched off.
Our websites sometimes integrate with other companies’ sites. For example, we integrate with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, to make it easier for you to share what you have read. These sites place their own cookies on your browser as a result of us including their icons and ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons on our sites.
Dr Sophie Quinney, a locum GP, volunteers at a surgery in Treorchy.
I first met Dr Koto in the McDonalds at Cardiff Gate. It wasn’t the most upmarket venue for a rendezvous, but it was the only landmark I had any hope of recognising beyond my home boundaries. I’m an urban dweller, originally from pre-hipster East London. I came to train as a GP in Gwent because I wanted real life, real medicine, and trusted I would find common ground with people in the South Wales Valleys. “We say it like it is round here”, the senior receptionist told me with a smile when I pitched up for a placement in Tir Phil, a small town in a bottle neck of the magnificent Rhymney Valley.
I received my valleys upbringing in a variety of formats: history from my trainer (the son of a local miner), science by Julian Tudor Hart (an influential GP who published on the inverse care law), language from admin staff (on terms like ‘tamping’ and ‘bogging’), and of course socialisation in the Gilfach Working Mens’ Club.
After CCT I became a locum, and although I covered surgeries on either side of Dr Koto’s Rhondda Fawr Valley, I’d only passed through on a weekend bike ride. Needless to say, I had no reason to believe that hers would be any different to all the rest; friendly personified, with a rich history, strong sense of community and plenty of complex medicine.
Before we met, she had contacted me through GP Survival (Wales), an online forum and pressure group for grassroots GPs. It seemed her working situation had become untenable: a sole partner trying to manage 3,200 patients and unable to recruit for almost two years, she had recently resigned her contract.
For certain, there were questions that needed answering by the Health Board, but what was clear to me was that this was a young mother who was burning out and who felt utterly alone. I parked up and hovered awkwardly at the counter in McDonalds hoping our timings would coincide so that I could order just the once and get seated before I was floored by hyperactive children with ketchup-stained faces. Her text read: “I should be out by 7pm. I’m Japanese, you can’t miss me’. She appeared just as I’d fathomed the menu board, confident that she too recognised me from the brief description I had sent back to her: “skinny, shortish hair.” I asked her if she fancied a bite, to which she replied that she’d not yet found time for lunch, so chips would be great. With salty snacks and a fresh supply of caffeine, we started to talk.
Twenty minutes later and her chips were sitting cold and untouched in their pouch. It was clear that so much had gone on. Mopping at tears trickling over her exhausted face, it was a job holding back my own. As a fellow GP working among these incredible communities, I could empathise with her pain at losing the surgery she had built almost from the ground up: “I just wanted to do the best for my patients. I didn’t want to let them down.”
Since the Health Board had decided to close and disperse the list, a steady but constant flow of patients had come to see her to give her a hug and deliver chocolate and cards. There’d been public meetings and placard-waving, but I knew the politics of the situation and so did she. Nothing that I could do would change this for her, but it didn’t feel enough just to have met and consoled.
I offered to volunteer. Just one afternoon session a week, slotted in around my bookings, until she had worked this notice period out. I didn’t care what she did with the time; I just wanted her to have me alongside her. “This is about unity Naoka”, I said. “I want you to know that we are here, and that we are one profession. I’ll bring biscuits.”
Hi Sophie. I think we should talk. Can we meet? Please get in touch. [email protected]
As someone who demonstrates an affinity with the valley's, why don't you become a partner in one of the many valley practices desperate for partners?