Disappearing Willies

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 24 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:316
  1. James Owen Drife, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology
  1. Leeds

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    When Mrs Thatcher said, “Every prime minister needs a Willie,” she was talking about her senior adviser, William Whitelaw. He was in his 60s, seven years her elder, and, although it was mainly his character that made him a valued counsellor, his experience must have helped.

    A consultant, even one as tough as the Iron Lady, sometimes needs to talk to an older colleague. So do GPs, and a general practice should have its Dr Whitelaw as well as its Dr Wunderkind. Our medical Willies, however, are disappearing. In my specialty, most consultants plan to retire before 60. Colleagues tell …

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