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The tipping point

Should he stay or should he go? Jobbing Doctor has retirement on his mind again

Should I go quickly, or hang on?

This is, I think, a question that many doctors who qualified at the same time as me are asking. Everywhere I look I see the meddling of politicians, being unprepared to leave the system alone, but rather seeing it as a huge organisation to be messed with.

The next election result does not really matter to Jobbing Doctors, as all parties are pretty similar when it comes to their plans for the future of primary care. They see it as a monopoly that needs to be broken, and they want to further reduce the influence of the professionals working within the system.

So what are my options? These will depend on material factors, such as pensions and mortgages. They also depend on factors like enjoyment and fulfillment in my work, a sense of doing valuable activity, and the general noise around the working environment.

For this Jobbing Doctor, it all points to a complete break at the age of 60. Then the mortgage will be paid, and I shall actually own my own semi-detached house. I shall have an almost full pension (one year shy of the forty 40ths) and my children will have left home. Mrs Jobbing Doctor plans to retire around a year before, so that she can embark on an African adventure for a charity.

What might make me go sooner? Possibly a serious complaint might make the difference. The job is stressful enough without the worry of court cases, and coroners. I have been very lucky so far to avoid one of these (and it is luck as much as judgement), and I hope that the last three years will be the same as the last 35.

Another thing that might tip me over the edge is the prospect of revalidation. This iniquitous system, brought in on the back of the murderous exploits of a madman who just happened to be a GP, is designed to assume that we are all rubbish until we can prove to the contrary. The GMC (which is now a Government-appointed quango) has wholeheartedly endorsed this bureaucratic project, enabling the various gauleiters the opportunity to retain sgnificant power.

The irony is that this system would not catch another Shipman.

Health might be an issue as well. My hours every week comfortably exceed those approved by the European Working Time Directive, and there comes a point when the body or mind does not cope as well. There is a temptation to relax with alcohol, which is a big risk in our profession.

However, there are things that might make me want to stay on. The people that I work with are really important to me, and I am very pleased with the make-up of the practice which has come together well.

I suppose it could be partly measured by the effect it would have if I fell under the proverbial bus. The pleasing answer for me is that I think that I would scarcely be missed, either in the surgery or in my role in GP education.

So, the posturing of the current political candidates is marginal for me personally, although I cannot help feeling that we are again in a situation where ideas are generated to gain votes rather than improve the service. Certainly a pay freeze for the last six years, projected to continue for a further two years, has been irritating - especially as my workload has increased by around 25% in that time.

Working regularly at weekends is not on, however.

I won't do it.

That will be the clincher.

Jobbing Doctor