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06/02/2015 09:52 GMT | Updated 08/04/2015 06:59 BST

Crossword Solutions

Retired Doctor - Seeking Suitable Employment

So here I am, sitting sipping my fourth cup of tea of the morning whilst lingering over the Times crossword waiting for my wife to take us both for our weekly shop at Tesco's. It's all a far cry from a month ago when at this time of day my adrenaline levels would be stratospheric as I juggled a winter's morning surgery of medical, surgical and especially social conditions across the whole spectrum of complexity whilst fielding phone calls, reviewing test results and organising visits to residential homes for later in the day. In fact, doing what I have been doing, day in/day out, for the past thirty years. Until last month. Until I 'retired'.

I honestly thought that I would embrace retirement like an evangelist embracing their religion. It was the Promised Land; all that I had yearned for during my working life. Well, in truth, it's a bit of a let-down. Why? Well. It's hard to put into words without sounding like a sanctimonious weasel but, I, like the majority of my colleagues, went into medicine as a vocation. I kind of liked doing it. I enjoyed the intellectual rigour of the subject. I like the human interaction. In fact I liked an awful lot about being a GP. Sure, in the last few years I found the insatiable demands of government and public alike, the onerous tick box bureaucracy , the sense of loss of control over my activities increasingly wearying but I never lost faith in what I was doing as essentially being a force for good. And now I no longer do it.

9 Across Recuperate (10)

'Convalesce'.

As I penned in the last 'e' it dawned on me. NHS England announced a £10 million initiative in January 2015 to explore ways to recruit, retain and reward doctors in order to deal with the shortfall in numbers of GPs. The ideas put so far have both lacked originality and tended to bypass practical ways of dealing with an increasing aged population.

There are thousands of recently retired or soon to retire GPs, mainly doing so before 65 years of age, who, like myself, still enjoy clinical medicine but can't be bothered with all the rest of the guff clogging up primary care. We all have experience, knowledge, skills and perhaps even wisdom accumulated over years of practice. Isn't it an awful waste to put all that out to grass especially when general practice in the UK is struggling to find doctors to replace them?

One, arguably the biggest pressure on GP workload causing early retirement of doctors, is from an aging population with their poly-morbidities and complex problems. Certainly from my experience the elderly in nursing and residential homes form by far and away the majority of time-consuming home visits. Such visits, despite the government's edict that all aged over 75years should have a named responsible GP, are done by whoever is available.

Sadly, like elsewhere in primary care, continuity of care no longer exists. Yet it is precisely for the residents in care and their families that continuity of medical care has the most benefit in addition to being cost effective and efficient. The relationship that the doctor builds with the patient, family and carers is vital in building trust and confidence so that, for example, an elderly person can avoid hospital admission for a minor problem that can be handled in the home.

Recently retired GPs are wasting their time. They have all the requisite skills and knowledge of life to be ideally placed to look after the elderly. Why not bring them back in the role of, say, a semi- autonomous community geriatrician? I think that they might even be willing to do it for a cut price rate since they would already have some income from an NHS pension.

Their duties would be ring-fenced to looking after the residents of care homes. They would liaise with the resident's GP but have the flexibility to manage the patient's condition as they see fit both in the interests of the patient and their family and carers. They would do a daily 'ward round'. Believe me when I say that most care homes would be delighted to have a doctor come round on a daily basis with most 'problems' requiring no more than a little support and reassurance . These doctors would be fully cognisant of safeguarding adults' guidelines. They would have time to actually deal fully with any problems without being fearful of having to be somewhere else. In short, they could be 'old-fashioned doctors', both yearned for and sadly missed by a population that was brought up on traditional family general practice.

And what would GPs still in practice say about such an idea? With a huge sigh of relief; 'how soon can they start?' For after all, as we doctors grow older ourselves with the prospect of our own declining health; nothing concentrates the mind more than.......

14 Down Fear of aging (13)

'Gerascophobia'