ABERFAN will say a fond farewell to their GP of 30 years when Dr Pankaj S Shah of Pantglas Surgery retires on New Year’s Eve.
A farewell buffet was held at the surgery on December 19 when patients and staff had the opportunity to say goodbye to their doctor and thank him for his service and commitment to the community over the last three decades.
Dr Shah (pictured, left) arrived in South Wales from the Midlands in 1981 where he began his GP training in New Tredegar, Gwent.
In 1982, he joined the Nixon House practice in Merthyr Vale staying there for two years before leaving in 1984 to look for new premises for himself. He found premises at Aberfan Community Centre, where he set up Pantglas Surgery on his own.
Dr Chillal joined Dr Shah for a few years but left in 1989 and Dr Shah returned to running the practice single-handedly and was always on call for his 1,200 patients which, by any definition is no mean feat.
In 1989, an extension to the building enabled additional rooms to be built which were used by the practice nurses and Dr Shah’s wife Smita who set up well woman and family planning clinics.
Dr Shah’s two sons have followed in his footsteps - Maulik is a GP in Swansea and Hemal works in London.
As we all know, behind every GP is an avid receptionist and Cathy Thomas and Margaret Guppy are no exception to that rule. Cathy has worked at the practice for 13 years and Margaret for nine years and both have enjoyed the role immensely.
Janett Bickley was the practice manager from 1988 to 2001 and she joined staff and patients to say farewell to Dr Shah.
Maureen Hughes, a patient at the practice since the mid-1980s, said: “Dr Shah will be missed in this community.He was always very accessible to his patients. He’s a quiet gentleman who knows his job.
“My mother and great aunt were patients in the practice and my son is also a patient.”
During the buffet, Dr Shah was presented with a framed illustration of Pantglas Surgery by Mrs Hughes (pictured).
Dr Shah said: “My patients live in a very close community and have been very supportive of me.
“Staff at the practice are very caring and eager to help patients.
“I have enjoyed working here and have many good memories. Time has gone very quickly and I have made a lot of friends.”
Following retirement, Dr Shah now plans to do locum work and to play more golf to improve his handicap.
Dr Chris Jones, chair of Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “Dr Shah served the Aberfan community through thick and thin. Countless people will have benefitted from his gentle support and professional kindness.
“The health board wishes Dr Shah and his family a healthy and happy retirement.”
From January 1, 2014, the Pantglas surgery will be merged with Brookside surgery in Troedyrhiw but patients will still be seen in Aberfan for the foreseeable future.