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Would you study medicine again?

From Dr Richard Cook, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex

I recently attended our medical school’s 25-year reunion. Kenneth Clarke was health secretary when I qualified in 1989 and I have watched 11 of his successors come and go since then.

There was a good mix of specialties represented by attendees – who travelled from up and down the country – with around half of us being GPs or primary care doctors. On the dinner menu was smoked salmon, beef and sticky toffee pudding, which made a nice change from spending cuts, admission avoidance and political posturing.

One of the things that stuck out during conversation was the wide variation in views among colleagues as to whether they would study medicine given their time again, or recommend it as a career to their children or friends (surely the real ‘friends and family test’ for the NHS).

But the underlying sentiment among those present was that the few who had reduced their clinical commitment had done so not because of a loss of interest in patients, but because they felt disillusioned. It seems that we cannot escape political interference and we must brace ourselves for the next great redevelopment of the system.