I enjoyed my time at Guys and many memories come flooding back. Swallowing tubes for a free breakfast; self-phlebotomy for the ampicillin trials; the anatomy room; Aggie Shaw shuffling in with a fag on to give a brilliant account of DNA ; the Brighton Walk; collapsing on taking a hypotensive in pharmacology; making a shambles of ‘the problem of pain’. Somehow I got through 2nd MB, then on to the preclinical class, and special agreement from George Scott for a week off to marry Ann, my Maria Grey girlfriend (and still putting up with me after all these years). On to the wards, trolleying my patient down for surgery; the terror of phlebotomy; ward rounds; take in; sector at Pembury (I am useful after all); Ronnie McKieth; home delivery in the Guinness Buildings; working lunches in the Gordon Museum; then at last finals.So many familiar names on the reunion list – great fellow students but will I recognize them now? General practice was always my aim, to Prof Butterfields amusement, and with the help of Jimmy Goodliffe I was on the house at the West Middlesex, close to our home in Hounslow, and he introduced me to Peter Skinner and Bill Callum of the Hildenborough practice, both wonderful partners. It was 1964, the era of the infamous pool and apocryphal ‘needle’s in the ashtray’. We consulted in half a bungalow, a butcher’s shop, a front room, a back room and a village hall – all ‘come and wait -and dispensed Mist Pot Brom et Val, and Mist Rhei from winchesters.
The next year we all sent in undated resignations, the “Charter” was accepted, and modern general practice stumbled into life. Frequent deliveries, endless home visits, and a one in three rota out of hours marked the early years, with measles and flu epidemics to keep us busy. Receptionists and appointments, practice nurses, and community staff followed over the years, then fundholding (and endoscopies next week!!) Mobile phones, co-operative ‘out of hours’; new premises; computerization; the QOF; PCTs all changed the face of general practice.
Mid career my life changed with the Guy’s Trainers course. Small group work, consulting skills, reflection, and time out of the practice led to GP Training, course organizing and an Assistant Adviser post. A sabbatical looking at continuing education for GPs in small groups meant travelling abroad with Ann as chief time and note keeper and cured my impending burnout. As General practice developed so did the College and I enjoyed being involved at Faculty and Council level. When I became a part time partner in the practice I dabbled with PCT work and helped to set up appraisal and monitor the QOF locally. Ann has shared in it all as student, GP, teacher, administrator and now I am a gardener, golfer, grandpa, and sculptors groupie. Do I miss the Practice? Not really. Would I do it again? Certainly, every bit of it. I’m a lucky guy. Ken Evens