When I first became a GP, there was a problem with easing octogenarians out of the practices they had served for more than half a century. Then came Mrs Thatcher’s purchaser-provider split and a new GP contract. Suddenly grey-haired GPs became an endangered species and no-one wanted to go into general practice. Now in 2007 there are not enough openings to go round for newly trained GPs, and their older colleagues seem to be finding more options for the last years of their working lives.
NASGP’s membership includes doctors of all ages. There are will-be partners, have-been partners, may-be partners and wont-be partners. I fall into the second category, and like many colleagues have found that flexibility as a sessional or freelance GP has returned to me control over my work and my life, and restored my enjoyment in seeing patients. It has been a great six years.
Now I am about to give up. “NO!” said a friend who has already done so, “We are not giving up, we are stopping.” We doctors have a strong tendency to do guilt, and if you were lucky enough to secure a place to train as a mature student, as I was, you have even more to beat yourself up over. But we should not apologise when we recognise that it is time to move on.