‘The patients are like my family’ says medical receptionist Jeannette

Jeannette Duly, 78, who has just retired after working for 37 years as a receptionist at The Meadows surgery, Burgess Hill. Pic Steve Robards SR1717367 SUS-170208-173402001
Jeannette Duly, 78, who has just retired after working for 37 years as a receptionist at The Meadows surgery, Burgess Hill. Pic Steve Robards SR1717367 SUS-170208-173402001

Award-winning medical receptionist Jeanette Duly has been helping to care for generations of people in Mid Sussex for the past 37 years.

And as 78-year-old Jeanette finally retired from The Meadows Medical Practice in Burgess Hill this week, she told how much she would miss everyone.

“The patients are like my family,” she said.

“I wish I could take them all home with me, along with the doctors and my colleagues.”

Over the past 37 years - “and two months” - Jeanette has helped care for generations of families.

“I’ve seen children grow up, and their children grow up.”

When she first started in June 1980, the practice was in Church Road and was run by herself and only one doctor - Dr Ben Ross.

But as it grew over the years with more staff, doctors and patients, the practice was sold and became The Brow surgery, later merging with The Meadows.

Jeannette cites computerisation as being the biggest change she has seen over the years, along with a growth in government regulations.

“The government put a lot on us now,” she said. “The doctors always seem to be more stressed. People need a lot more help these days.

“But it’s been a lovely job. I have loved every minute of it.”

One of the highlights was being nominated in 2004 by patients as NHS Employee of the Year for the whole of Mid Sussex.

“It was wonderful and a big surprise.”

Another surprise was held on Monday when she was showered with gifts and flowers from patients, doctors and staff.

“Some people didn’t know I was retiring when they came into the surgery on Monday and, when they realised, they were going to Tescos across the road and buying flowers and bringing them back in - it was such a lovely thing to do.”

But retirement does not mean that Jeanette will be putting up her feet - she has plans with husband Colin to finish converting a shed into a craft room at their home in Leylands Park, along with spending more time in the garden - and taking up jewellery-making and oil painting.