I was interested to read that one of my Australian colleagues (Jellyhead) has had similar feelings to mine: “Last night I thought about the week ahead and it seemed that my life stretched ahead of me in endless weeks - work, work, weekends, work, work, weekends. Occasional holidays - long anticipated, over in a trice - then more work, work, work.” You may recall me writing something similar earlier this month. I'm glad to report that I've been feeling a lot happier over the past week or two.
There are a number of reasons for this. None of the doctors has been away for several weeks, which means that the backlog of appointments has been cleared, and surgeries are not full to bursting. I have more time to think about problems so that they become an interesting challenge rather than an onerous burden. I am getting through a lot of stuff but managing to finish within ten hours each day. The days are longer and it is still light when I get home, so I don't feel that I am spending almost all my waking hours at work. I went on a study day last week which got me out of the practice, taught me a few things, and let me chat to some interesting GPs I had never met before. And the fact that I intend to retire in two years allows me to adopt a more sanguine attitude to the turmoil in general practice. It's not that I don't care exactly, it's more that the threats have no power over me. I recall the wise words of an extremely non-PC paediatric consultant who taught me at medical school. “When you're young you have to take everyone's money” he said, “but when you get older you can tell them to bugger off.”
He was a lovely chap. Two policewomen came into a teaching session once about a child protection matter. He evidently thought them naïve, for he referred to them as “spiritual virgins” after they had gone. And he would usually end his teaching sessions by saying “it's my drinking hour, haven't you had enough?” He also memorably advised us; “do try not to kill anyone by accident”. This was in the 1970s when doctors would still sometimes do unofficial “mercy killing”, long before Fred Shipman gave the practice a bad name. Nowadays there is a strong euthanasia lobby which would like doctors to be able to do it officially. What goes around comes around, as another consultant told me in those days.