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John Ashton’s ‘Outspoken and Impatient’ bio was stimulating and vigorous. I have only one quibble: his unequivocal admiration of the biography 'A Fortunate Man' by John Berger.
When I was a GP Trainer in the 1970s and 80s 'A Fortunate Man' was almost essential reading for GP Trainees (Registrars), the implication being that he could be their role model. John Sassall, the subject of the book, was indeed a most admirable and splendid man, who conveyed the essence of what General Practice should be about.
But at the time I remember thinking that his full-time devotion to his patients and his community was so overwhelming, without an element of detachment, that I wondered what effect it might have had on his wife and family, and whether such commitment could lead to burn out. Those were the days when GPs worked a five-day week and were on call evenings, nights and weekends. Tragically he later committed suicide.
I also remember thinking, perhaps unworthily, that left-winger author John Berger was living in charming ‘La France Profonde’ and able to concentrate on his work undisturbed, while the GPs he so much admired, and their wives ‘on call’, not to mention their children, were unable to settle to anything else at weekends.
Nevertheless, 'A Fortunate Man' was a classic of its kind and an insight into a very different kind of heroic General Practice.