'Indigestion saved my life'

A PENSIONER has sung the praises of a city GP after what he thought was a simple case of indigestion turned out to be a potentially life-threatening tumour.

A PENSIONER has sung the praises of a city GP after what he thought was a simple case of indigestion turned out to be a potentially life-threatening tumour.

Michael Baker was shocked to learn a couple of months ago that he had a four-inch growth in one of his kidneys.

The 66-year-old had gone to see Dr Anthony Lister, at Old Palace Medical Practice, in April complaining of indigestion but the quick-thinking doctor suspected that there was something more serious lurking behind Mr Baker's discomfort.

He sent the retired father-of-one for tests where it was not only discovered that he had gall stones but he also had a tumour in one of his kidneys. Within weeks he had an operation to have the growth removed.

Today, Mr Baker, of Stevenson Road in North Earlham, told how highly he thought of his GP, who he admits frightens him, and how he would never exchange his local doctors' surgery for a polyclinic.

He said: “It was my doctor that got the ball rolling. When I had to see one of the surgeons, he started to tell me everything but then realised Dr Lister had already told me everything I needed to know.

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“I was perfectly well before I went in and if it wasn't for Dr Lister I wouldn't have known about it. It all happened so quickly. Dr Lister was brilliant - not just for finding the tumour but also for making me stop drinking in the past and advising that I stop smoking and go to the gym.

“Because of those things I was able to have the operation in the first place; it meant I was fit enough to take the operation in such a short time.”

Mr Baker, who lives with his wife Barbara, first went to the surgery on Old Palace Road, off Dereham Road in Norwich, in April. It was within eight weeks that he had the operation.

The former Lotus employee does not yet know if the tumour was cancerous and is waiting for test results. It could be up to six weeks before he finds out.

He said: “I think the reason I've always stuck with Dr Lister is because he reminded me so much of my dad and that frightened me but I can't say enough about him.

“I won't ever swap the service for a polyclinic. I think people of my generation know what they like and we like what we know.”

Mr Baker's comments have come just a fortnight after health chiefs gave the go-ahead for the Dussindale Walk-In Centre to close with a new polyclinic to be built in the city centre.

Dr Lister said the care and treatment Mr Baker, who he has been treating for about 30 years, received was a reflection of what a lot of GPs in Norwich do.

He said: “Personalised care, looking after families and knowing them for many years is part of what we do and helps us to spot very early when things are going wrong.

“It's about having awareness, a sixth sense almost, and operating a family practice as we think it should be delivered. We always try to get to the bottom of symptoms and do our upmost to find out what's happening. That's the value of personalised care, small practices and knowing your GPs.”

Dr John Battersby, lead director for primary care for NHS Norfolk allayed fears that a GP-led health centre would lead to less personal service and to surgery closures.

He said: “The GP-led health centre is a two-fold service, which will incorporate a 'normal' GP practice, alongside its GP walk-in service.

“Patients who register within this practice can expect to receive exactly the same high standards of care and patient-doctor relationship as they currently receive from any GP.”