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Dr Mark Sanford-Wood

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‘I am naturally delighted to have been nominated, although I am not entirely sure why I was,’ says Dr Mark Sanford-Wood.

But the Devon LMC medical secretary has fought the corner of local GPs on a number of issues this year and is deservedly included in this list of local heroes. He was part of the year-long struggle to keep Devon’s respected GP occupational health service running, after NHS England refused to fund it beyond April. No wonder, then, that Dr Sanford-Wood describes fighting for the interests of GPs as ‘an increasingly uphill struggle’.

He has since arranged a local insurance scheme so GPs can support each other when they are struggling.

In May, Dr Sanford-Wood, a locum in Devon, had to deal with practices in the area suffering payment disruptions after a botched list-cleansing initiative by NHS Shared Business Services saw registered patients deleted – despite GPs flagging them as active.

He says he’s also been helping to prevent individual practices from imploding, something he says would have been ‘a rare event’ two years ago.

‘This year I have had significant and direct involvement with four practices that have managed to pull back from the precipice – at least for the time being. It’s not big and national, but to those four practices it means everything,’ he says.