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It’s a new year – but Pulse is 50 years’ old

By Richard Hoey

As we enter the magazine's half-century year, it's a good time to reflect on just how much general practice has changed

Happy new year, if that term still applies on 8 January.

Pulse has been shaking off the winter snow after a longer than usual Christmas hibernation, and gearing ourselves up for a busy few months.

We have the general election coming up, of course, which is going to be dominating the national news agenda, and to a lesser extent our own, from here on in.

But far more importantly than that, we are also celebrating Pulse's 50th anniversary this year (we launched on 15 March, 1960).

Yup, Pulse has been around longer than moon landings, the thalidomide scandal and England World Cup victories.

We're keen to spend the next few months gathering up your memories of general practice over the last half a century. Indeed, please do send me your thoughts either by email ( or in the comment box at the end of this blog.

I've also spent a good part of the last week leafing through old copies of Pulse from the 1960s, and it's interesting reflecting on just how dramatically both general practice, and the journalism that serves it, has changed.

In 1960, most GPs were single-handers working from their own homes, and their affiliation to the NHS was still weak – many assumed it was just a rather expensive passing phase.

Some indeed were so unhappy with the poor pay and working conditions in those pre-Red Book days that they were agitating to speed up that process by quitting the NHS altogether.

Some of the preoccupations back then were rather familiar. Fiendishly complicated contractual negotiations over pay and workload, and a raging argument over whether general practice should become a fully salaried profession, both featured on the pages of Pulse back then.

Others though were rather different. I won't spoil the subject of Pulse's first ever front page for you, because we'll be featuring that in our anniversary issue (as a clue, it was more concerned with a doctor's wardrobe than it was medicine).

But in front of me, I have a headline from 17 February 1962. ‘What a good woman will do for you!' it reads, enthusiastically espousing the benefits of hiring a receptionist.

The core of general practice – the provision of continuous, personalised care – may be a constant throughout the ages. But some things really have changed, and for the most part, probably for the better.

By Richard Hoey, Pulse editor