A familiar face throughout the Isle will be missed over the next two years, as GP Richard Falk has moved down under to pursue medical research.
Dr Falk of Haxey has worked within the South Axholme Practice for 27 years, but jumped at the opportunity to continue primary care research work in Perth, Western Australia, and experience a different healthcare system.
He said: “I think it’s important, as a doctor, to remember that one is also a scientist. Research helps us improve things. I’ve been involved for more than 15 years now and it can really help patients – it gives them engagement in their own healthcare.”
Dr Falk continued: “I have seen massive changes in the NHS over the years and have great memories. I just feel that at 55 I’m ready for a change. I have great colleagues and have faith that patients will get excellent care from them in the future.”
South Axholme is one of only a few practices in the area to employ a dedicated research coordinator.
Research nurse Clare McCormack, and research coordinator Michelle Thirkell both worked with Dr Falk to oversee the setting up of studies, recruitment and retention of participants, through to study closure and archiving.
As a senior figure within the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Research Network Dr Falk won a national Principal Investigator Award in 2014. The CRN supports the delivery of clinical research in the NHS.
Dr Alison Layton, Clinical Director for the CRN, said: “Richard has worked tirelessly to promote and deliver NIHR primary care research across the region, introducing innovative ways of working which have given patients the opportunity to take part in research across the whole Yorkshire and Humber area.
“The CRN team and many patients will be very sad to lose his excellent leadership and he will be greatly missed not only for all his hard work and creative thinking but also his great sense of humour.”
His most notable achievement outside healthcare was establishing the Epworth Colts junior football team, said the GP, with help from Phil Deno and John Buckley.
Dr Falk has moved with wife Ginette. He has two adult children, Jessica and James.