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Personal Views

A retiring sort of chap

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 22 February 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:612
  1. Ron Mulroy, retired general practitioner in Wakefield

    The last few months of my 33 years in the practice were the most difficult of my professional life. Once the letter was sent and the resignation accepted, my whole life and thought centred on that Thursday in June. I was aware that after that my reputation would rest only in my notes and in the memories of patients and partners. And memories last only for a while.

    My notes became more assiduous. I investigated everything and referred more easily. One of the great benefits of general practice has always been that it usually provides opportunities to correct errors and make good any omissions. Soon these second chances would be no more. Inadequacy, default, and frank mistake would be inherited by my partners, and while I had faith in their loyalty I could not bear embarrassment, even by proxy. My anxieties verged on the psychotic and built to a crescendo before each surgery and at the ringing of even a distant telephone. Eventually, as April became May, I realised that I could no longer cope and I brought in a partner. While this eased the anxiety of out of hours work, it left me depressed by my own inadequacy.

    Each consultation, too, was a bereavement. …

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