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News > Old Girls' Association > Spotlight on Grace Ding

Spotlight on Grace Ding

“The [COVID] vaccine was a miracle. There was a real Dunkirk spirit amongst GPs when the roll-out began.”
Interviewed for OGA Chain magazine 2021
Interviewed for OGA Chain magazine 2021

Grace left St Swithun’s in 1982 with 5 A-levels and went on to study at Southampton Medical School. After graduating she did her house jobs in Southampton and in Lymington. This was in the days when Lymington was still a cottage hospital and Grace was very much ‘in at the deep end’ where weekend shifts could last 84 hours with no guaranteed sleep or meal times. “The years in St Swithun’s taught me the discipline and the resilience necessary to work as a medic.”

After a stint in A&E, Grace completed her 3 year GP rotation which included a year in a GP surgery in Romsey. She passed her membership exam for the Royal College of General Practitioners in 1991 and has worked as a GP ever since. “My heart was always in General Practice. My father was a GP in Hong Kong and I have always liked the variety and continuity that General Practice provides.”

Now based in Oxfordshire with her husband, a Consultant Cardiologist, she has made the choice to work part-time. She feels the current workload of a full-time GP is not conducive to good mental health, particularly given the last 18 months and COVID. “Despite the pressures, I have always felt privileged to work in the NHS where, unlike most other countries in the world, I can practise without the financial constraints of private medicine.”

The pandemic was one of the most significant periods in Grace’s career. She witnessed the rapid spread of the infection amongst patients and staff, especially in the care home population during the first wave. As the lead research GP in her practice, she was able to take part in rapidly evolving COVID research such as the PRINCIPLE trial and antibodies studies. “The vaccine was a miracle. There was a real Dunkirk spirit amongst GPs when the roll-out began.” Grace felt strongly that her practice should step up and she, like many others, volunteered to administer it in her free time. A contact of Grace’s husband was also able to help out and kindly re-tasked his factory workers from making aircraft seats to making long sleeve gowns for PPE. What’s more, they did it for free. 

These acts of kindness were appreciated by us as a nation and also as individuals. After one clapping session on a Thursday night, the young daughter of Grace’s neighbour posted something special through her letterbox. It was a medal for Grace made out of a Pringles lid - an example of how much we all value the efforts made by Grace and all our NHS workers.

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