Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Dr David Cove has been in Dorchester since 1981 when he was appointed Consultant Physician to Dorset County Hospital. His specialities were general medicine, diabetes and endocrinology (hormones). He was medical director for four years and, among other things, was involved with developing clinical governance. He started his medical career at Birmingham University, qualified there and then undertook a number of  posts and research mainly in the West Midlands. He has just taken over as Chairman of the Dorchester and Sherborne Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

WHAT brought you to Dorset?
It was a combination of the post and the area - it’s a lovely part of the world to come to and at the time there was the prospect of a new hospital, although that didn’t come for some years. It was an exciting opportunity. When I first arrived we were admitting acute medicine to Dorset County and Weymouth and District hospitals and I also did clinics in Dorchester, Weymouth, Bridport, Blandford and Sherborne.

DID you know about area before you came?
No, I didn’t. I had to look it up on the map, but I found out about it pretty quickly. My first impressions were of a lovely county town with a delightful rural area and the sea close by as well, ideal in many ways.

ARE you attracted to the sea?
I like windsurfing and swimming and a bit of snorkelling. I’m not windsurfing at the moment; although I did until a couple of years ago…I might have another go.

YOU stayed, you didn’t move on?
At the time I was appointed consultants which meant you tended to stay in the same place. In training you would move from post to post but in a consultant post you were expected to be there for life. It’s a bit different now and people do move more now.

WHEN did you retire?
From the NHS in April 2013. I had been part-time for a few years and had been gradually reducing hours from the age of 60, but I properly retired at the age of 66. It would have been very difficult to suddenly stop.

DO YOU have any hobbies? 
I guess gardening is the main hobby, it takes up quite a lot of time; I also started doing a bit of sculpture in a very amateurish way about four years ago. I’m not very good, but I enjoy it.

YOUR retirement will now be partially taken over by your new role with the CAB. How did that come about?
I wanted to do something worthwhile and I had family who used to work for CAB years ago as well as many patients who benefitted from the CAB. The opportunity to take up the chair came up and I thought that would be a good thing to do and a real challenge. I’ve come to it cold so I’m on a steep learning curve, which I’m actually enjoying. Everyone has been most helpful in explaining CAB and my job, and the job that they do. I’ve also, with client’s permission, sat in on a number of sessions which I found very instructive. I’ve been terribly impressed by the staff at the CAB.

AND they deal with so many people?
Yes, we’re currently working out the figures for this year in the run up to the annual meeting on October 9th but for 2012-13 the bureau dealt with 5,590 clients who between them had 17,068 issues to be resolved. The numbers are quite staggering.

I WOULD imagine funding must be a problem even though many of the ‘staff’ are volunteers?
It’s a constant and continuing worry. The core of our funding comes from local government and their budgets are being cut. I know they are doing a review of their expenditure for 2016 onwards and although they are very supportive of CAB they do have their hands tied and this work is non-statutory. But the councils are aware of the issues. They know if they don’t have the CAB helping with people’s debt issues there is a risk they could become homeless and then the local authorities have to sort that out, at very much higher expense. We would argue that funding the CAB is money very well spent.

WERE you surprised about how much poverty and problems there are in this area, which on the face of it appears affluent?
I have been aware of it for a long time really, through medicine. Rural poverty is hidden away, it doesn’t hit you in the face like urban poverty. There are a lot of people who are making do and organising their lives as best they can on very little, particularly with house prices being high and the cost of transport locally.

DO YOU have favourite authors?
Orwell, Greene, Isabel Allende I like.

FAVOURITE films and music?
Classical music and a certain amount of jazz. We go to the Dorchester Film Society and enjoy that very much, there’s a whole variety of things there. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Angel’s Share’ which was along the lines of ‘Whisky Galore’. It was a wonderful film, very funny.

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