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Book review: ‘The English Doctor’ by Dr Richard Sloane

I was pleased to be able to review this book when I found that the author had two doctor parents, (like myself) and was also  born in Yorkshire.

This is an account of medical practice in the second half of the 20th century with a lot of anecdotes thrown in.

His father`s GP practice is described and how medicine used to be a vocation, at one time he was working with his wife with no pay as an “honorary assistant”.

Becoming a medical student is then described when he had to state his positio.n on the rugby field,(not the right one) and didn`t get in! His student life is described in detail as well as descriptions of some eminent professors e.g. JZ Young.

He decided to take an anatomy degree then became a physiology lecturer after he qualified, where he helped to invent a prototype ear thermometer.

Life as a partner in general practice is described in detail in leafy Cheltenham and then in a deprived area in Wakefield where he started from scratch. His choice of partner was confirmed when he was so nice to his dog.

Teambuilding and research are described as well as modes of funding, extending up to fundholding and QOF and NICE guidelines.

The author becomes a GP tutor and ends up as associate director of GP education in the Yorkshire Deanery. He is critical of the current scope of education and appraisal and the radical changes introduced in 2012.

This book is not the “James Herriott” of medicine as patients’ foibles are rarely described but it gives a good description of becoming a doctor and working in different areas, particularly if one is interested in education.

Rosemary Alexander, MB ChB MRCP