MY heart bleeds for Dr Richard Vautrey and his present-day GP colleagues. If they want to know what hard work and really long hours are, they need look no further than my late father and maternal grandfather and uncle.
All three were single-handed family foctors who were responsible for their own patients 24/7, 365 days a year. Being paid per capita for the patients, the more work they did, the greater their expenses and the less they earned. If they took time off, they had to find a locum and pay that locum.
When we were small children, we frequently did not see Daddy in the evenings as he would usually have house calls to make after his evening surgery, as well as those made during the day.
He sometimes sat up all night with sick patients about whom he was concerned, as did my grandfather and uncle.
On one occasion my mother thought that my father had not returned from a night call, but eventually he was found in the car in the garage – fast asleep.
I could give very many more examples of the differences for a doctor’s family in the “olden days” from the arms-length, frequently impersonal “service” received by many patients today.
In those days being a family doctor was a vocation, not a part-time job.