MORE than 150 patients queued to thank a “wonderful” GP who retired after never taking a day off sick in 37 years.

They streamed down the drive of a former surgery in Wootton, near Abingdon, to thank Dr Leszek ‘Les’ Blazewicz, 65.

The Boars Hill doctor retired in January after a career serving Botley Medical Centre and Wootton. The family doctor said he was “overwhelmed” by the response.

Wootton patient Cathy French, 60, said: “The number of people in there shows the depth of feeling. “Two or three times I have been to see him and you think that would be it.

“Then there would be a tap at the door and he would pop in to see if you were better.”

Betty French, 83, said: “I have known him for 37 years and I have never heard anyone say a bad word about him.

“He was always so kind and patient. He is a lovely man.”

Judy Putt, 68, said the “absolutely wonderful” doctor helped her through breast cancer treatment 20 years ago.

She said: “He is a friend as well as a doctor.”

Botley’s Edna Ashwell, 80, said: “He was always willing to go the extra mile. He was a wonderful GP.”

Wootton’s Joy Barson, 58, said he was “very supportive” when she lost her mother and father. She said: “He is the most wonderful GP who has walked this earth. When they made him they broke the mould.

“I don’t think there has ever been a doctor so popular.”

Co-organiser Avryl French, whose son Jamie was delivered by the GP in 1980, said: “He is a really good family doctor and friend and we just felt that everybody misses him so much that he deserved a tea party to say thank-you and goodbye.”

Dr Blazewicz worked at the Besselsleigh Road surgery – now a private house – from 1977 to 1982. It is now in another premises in the road.

He said: “I am totally overwhelmed and very humbled. I hadn’t appreciated the level of support I am receiving from the population.

“They are like family to me.”

He said of his sick record: “I worked with fevers and I worked when I felt unwell. I am probably just fortunate to have good health.”

He said he felt pressured to retire when he turned 65 in January and is now working one day a week as a locum.

The father-of-three said: “My approach is humble and that seems to strike a chord with my whole range of patients.”

But the doctor, who came to Oxford from Cambridge to study, said: “The modern doctor is supposed to be a businessman. You ask yourself ‘why do they do medicine?’

“They look to deal with everything other than the patient.”

HOW the NHS has changed since Dr Blazewicz began work in 1975:

  • 1978 – Louise Brown, the world’s first test tube baby, is born.
  • 1990 – the NHS and Community Care Act passes into law, introducing an “internal market” into the NHS in a bid to drive up standards through competition.
  • 1998 – the NHS Direct health advice telephone service is launched in an attempt to the take pressure off NHS services.
  • 2000 – Primary Care Trust (PCT) health authorities are launched.
  • 2004 – a new GP contract is introduced in a bid to link pay to performance more.
  • 2006 – patients are told they can choose up to five hospitals for treatment instead of their GP.
  • 2010 – the coalition Government announces PCTs will be replaced by groups of GPs who will decide where NHS cash is spent by 2013.