Flex for GPs

‘I retired from medicine at the age of 73. I would have liked to work for longer as a locum but it really became quite untenable. Not because I wasn’t willing and able, but the system has changed so much it contrives against older GPs staying on to work. There are now really disincentives to work after retirement, even though the NHS is desperately short of practising GPs. I could have continued on a part-time basis but not just doing a few locums since this would not have allowed me to do the continuing education and revalidation that is now compulsory for all GP’s. Also, it would have meant continuing to pay very high insurance fees that would have been financially untenable – unfortunately the Medical Defence Union don’t give no claims bonuses. When there was a panic over the arrival of swine flu a few years ago someone in the ministry of health suggested that retired doctors might return temporarily if only to issue death certificate which I didn’t fancy, so that was that.

It is a real shame because I loved my job so much. Being a GP is the very best part of medicine. You get to know your patients and you follow their progress for years and see what happens. Every so often, I came across a very unusual case, which added variety.

I was a partner for a long time but that was quite hard work and I stood down from that role. I also stopped doing the rota on late night shifts and now I am out of the NHS altogether.

My husband and I are enjoying the fact that we now have more free time and we do quite a lot of sailing. Luckily, both of us enjoy good health. The government has introduced the flexible career scheme for people who want to work a different way. I think it is an excellent idea but I think it is undermined by all the new restrictions that they have imposed on all doctors, without taking into account the experience that older people can bring to the profession.

Dr Margaret Safranek

Dr Margaret Safranek,is a retired GP based inLondon. Although she initially did a modern language degree and had a career in journalism, she decided to change to medicine at the age of 40 and trained at St Thomas’s Hospital. She set up a new practice in Muswell Hill with Dr Bill Smith in 1983.

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