Book an appointment for Wednesday afternoon or anytime Thursday or Friday, and you may well meet Dr Anna Mallott, whose consulting room is on the ground floor at the back of the building.
‘With two lovely windows!’ laughs Anna, who hails from Norfolk. ‘I didn’t have a window in my last Practice and I really love having plenty of daylight.’
Anna decided to be a doctor around the age of 16, just before she started her A-levels. ‘My step-dad was a doctor and was one of the few adults I knew who really seemed to enjoy his job,’ she says. ‘I guess that’s what really attracted me to medicine in the first place.’
Initially Anna wanted to do History at A-level but when it didn’t fit the timetabling, she changed to two English-based subjects and two sciences, biology and chemistry.
‘My initial choices wouldn’t have been appropriate for medicine, so clearly this career was meant to be!’ laughs Anna who went on to study at Newcastle. She moved to London, working at hospitals in Welwyn Garden City, Enfield and Barnet, where she was lucky to get her first choice rotations in cardiology, orthopaedics, general surgery, acute medicine and A&E.
‘I was tempted by a career in obs and gynae, but realised I liked what the midwives did more than the doctors’ role. Paediatrics appealed too, but I never found myself in a clinic where I thought this would be brilliant to do every working day. So I decided that GP work would really suit me. Every case would be different and I would be able to follow patients and families through different stages of their lives.’
Anna finished her GP training in 2014 and did partner sabbatical cover and a salaried post before joining the Davenport House team in November 2017. Married with a two-year-old daughter, she moved with her family to Harpenden in January so is just getting to know the town and its residents.
Work and motherhood don’t leave a lot of free time, but whenever they can, she and her husband head off to the cinema or West End theatre. ‘But I hear there are some great local productions too, so we may not have to go so far next time,’ she says.
General practice has certainly lived up to her expectations. ‘I love the continuity of being a GP. Getting to know people and doing the detective work that is sometimes necessary to diagnose their problem. When you work in a hospital, you only ever see snapshots of people’s lives, whereas GPs get to see the end result. I particularly enjoy the family element too, seeing patients through pregnancy and birth, and then watching their children develop.’
Looking ahead, Anna would love to become a registered trainer, nurturing other young doctors in general practice. So how does she feel about today’s NHS? ‘The environment has clearly changed hugely since Aneurin Bevan set it up in 1948. The time pressures are very different and resources are strained.
‘I do feel that some of the policies aren’t being thought through long term, but in the main, it’s still a wonderful system that does a lot of things very well. It’s just a shame that we usually only hear the negatives.’
Anna’s certainly very happy with her own little corner of the NHS at Davenport House. ‘The people here are brilliant!’ she says. ‘Not just the doctors, but the front-of-house staff and the secretaries too. Everyone’s been so helpful and it’s a very positive environment to work in. And I get two windows! Just perfect!’