A DOCTOR who opened Oxford’s first specialist diabetes clinic so that patients did not have to routinely go to hospital has retired.

Dr John Sichel founded the practice at 28 Beaumont Street 30 years ago with his wife, Dr Diana Ferguson, because he felt it was “nonsense” that routine check-ups and treatment for diabetics were not done by GPs.

Reflecting on his career, Dr Sichel said the diabetes clinic had been “quite revolutionary” in its time.

More than 4,400 patients are now registered at 28 Beaumont Street, which is a general practice.

On Thursday Dr Sichel, 66, carried out his last day of surgery.

He said: “It was thought back when we started the clinic that type one diabetes sufferers being treated with insulin should only be treated at hospitals.

“I recognised that was nonsense because at a general practice patients could get a much more regular and better service.

“And at the time the Radcliffe Infirmary was quite supportive.”

During his time working as a GP, he said, although bureaucracy had increased he had tried to “retain old values”.

“I try very hard at my clinic to focus on paying attention to the details of patient needs and not get too bogged down in bureaucracy.

“The patient has to come first.”

Current practice manager Jane Belcher said Dr Sichel had retained many “dedicated patients” over the years.

She said: “He was great to work with and had an old-school style and I think a lot of people who came to see him will miss him very much.

“There is so much more to do now as a GP and John has seen through many changes in this place.”

Oxford too has seen many changes over the years, but, Dr Sichel said, since arriving in 1982 and moving into a home in North Oxford with his wife – who is now 63 and retired 18 months ago – he had found it “wonderful to work in”. He said: “I have particularly enjoyed the cross section of different people, be that from Jericho, Rose Hill, Botley or Cowley and, of course, students from the university.”

Speaking of his plans for retirement, the father-of-two said: “I’m feeling very pensive. It’s a bittersweet exit.

“An idea I am exploring is perhaps going into public health, to do some work in Third World countries such as Iraq or Burma, before I get too old for it.

“Places like that desperately need the primary care infrastructure.”

But, he added: “I think for now I might follow my interest in orchard planting, where I grew up in West Wight (on the Isle of Wight).”