1.       Reflections on retirement - Malcolm Wlliott
2.       Garden Party - Nigel Cockerell
3.       Husum - Graeme Wilcox
4.       Tennis 1997 - Mike Ward
5.       Are Doctors Duffers
6.       Payscales - a different viewpoint - non BMA member
7.       New Member - Magdi M Labib
8.       New Member - Leonard Sterling
9.       A New Face - Tony Wetherall       

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Reflections on Retirement


"I never thought retirement would be so exciting". This was a sudden, spontaneous, thought spoken aloud by Dorothy, as we sat having breakfast. It was a glorious June morning, and we were in the cockpit of our yacht 'Zygo' moored off Dittisham, up the River Dart. The sun was still low in the sky, highlighting the numerous shades of green woodland cascading down right to the waters edge. The water was mirror calm, reflecting perfectly the few other craft around, and it all seemed so idyllic as te be unreal. We were on the first of our Summer cruises, slowly making our way back home to Exmouth, having spent a few days exploring the Fal and the Helford. Our hardworking editor, Graeme, and I had earlier delivered Zygo to Falmouth, via Dartmouth and Newton Ferrers, to be joined by Dorothy and Jenny for the easy bit. There was nothing to do but idly watch the gorgeous scenery, with its abundance of wildlife, slowly unfold, and decide which of the many hospitable hostelries to grace with our custom for dinner. This was the way we had worked and saved for, and it is difficult to see how it could be improved. It so~d. like 'sheer perfection, but it didn't quite start like that. Retirement is an attitude at mind, and although we had planned it all in fine detail, initially the reality did not match the dream.


First the planning. I had progressively relinquished the various administrative offices had held, particularly at Regional Headquarters, and, a year before I became sixty, Umesh Udeshi took over as consultant-in-charge-of the department. I was left just with clinical radiology for a year albeit still visiting six hospitals each week. We had already purchased a flat in Exmouth to be near our daughter and her family, and joined the Local Sailing Club, where we were made most welcome and quickly started establishing a new social circle. We commuted most weekends but I still enjoyed my work in Worcestershire, particularly the patient contact, working with dedicated, highly motivated colleagues, and the rewarding feeling at the end of each day that one had been of some use to someone.


At sixty, as planned, I took early retirement. I finished completely at Kidderminster and Tenbury, but for another sixteen months continued working two and a half days a week at Bromsgrove, Redditch and Highfield. Our time was now split evenly between Kidderminster and Exmouth; work when in the Midlands, sailing, socialising and grandchildren in Devon. Everything was going according to plan. Then came the intentional final crunch. 6th May 1992 and sixty one years old I was given my final send off from the Alex and became a totally free man. May the 7th dawned dry and sunny. From the window could see Zygo over on her mooring, but nothing could lift the feeling of utter uselessness which overwhelmed me. I was now a drone, of no further use to society. There would be no more patient contacts, no staff room banter, not even anyone to be an agony uncle to. No colleague would call for an urgent opinion. From now on Victor Meldrew would rule supreme. We spent the Summer sailing, as planned, interspersed with a succession of visitors invited to enjoy Devon's delights. l:he gloom deepened. Dorothy, wisely took up voluntary work at the local hospital. Suddenly one evening came a totally unexpected phone call. The Sailing Club needed an Honorary Secretary, and I was invited to take over the role. I accepted without hesitation. Here was a chance to use some of the old administrative skills and also newly acquired expertise with a computer. Gradually, I became busy again and developed a sense of purpose. Mail needed answering daily, accounts were kept on a spreadsheet; members rang for advice, and I was soon in demand to serve in other capacities, such as a member of the Mooring Authority, the Lower Exe Nature Reserve Management Committee, and on the local branch of the charity CLIC.


That, then, was the beginning of the return to sanity. There was still plenty of time for sailing, hence Dorothy's comment above. The enjoyment of it all
seemed enhanced by the knowledge that  one was still, to some extent, earning it. My purpose in recording all this, is to suggest that, if anyone is intending to retire, planning cannot start too soon. Make sure the plan includes a purposeful, intellectually demanding task with a definite routine, otherwise it is all too easy to drift aimlessly into a slough of despond. Here, but for that phone call would still lie Victor Meldrew!

Malcolm Elliott

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GARDEN PARTY

Global warming is upon us. Climatic change and drought have become a part of British life, and despite their best efforts scientists have no answer. Fortunately, the Booth's have found the solution to this global catastrophe. Plan a garden party and you are immediately guaranteed the wettest June in living memory, if not since records began. However it is a tribute to them that despite
monsoon conditions a good time was had by all who attended their function at Blakebrook. Obviously, a considerable amount of care, time and knowledge had gone into the interesting garden quiz. Despite being almost incomprehensible for those of us who were horticulturally illiterate I am sure everyone enjoyed wandering around the oasis of beauty which is the Booth's garden. The food and
the company were excellent and I am sure everybody appreciated the hard work that went into making the evening a success and probably the several days it took to tidy the house afterwards.


Many thanks to Steve and Sue for a super evening.

Nigel Cockerell
 

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Husum


Husum is a small ship-building town ofsome 60,000 souls in Northern Germany, just south of the Danish border, The area is extraordinarily flat and windswept as the east wind sweeps across from The Steppes for much of the year. The town is surrounded by low lying agricultural land with canals, dykes and windmills galore. The Windmills of the modem variety are scattered in a profusion of wind farms, giving a surrealistic picture to the landscape. The town itself is really very attractive, not only because of its river and sea, but also because of its multiplicity of 19th century houses and squares, its harbour, its attractive castle and lovely Lutheran churches. It is therefore a much sought after holiday town by the Germans in summer but in winter, bleak and prone to flooding.


Husum is one of the few harbours on the small German seaboard and it is also the heart of a region of small offshore islands called Friesland. Husum is Kidderminster's twin town and has been now for some 40 years. The twinning was at first only a civic activity but
of late there has been much more in the way of cultural links between the two towns. You may be surprised to know that 4 members of the Kidderminster MedicaI Society are also members of the Kidderminster Choral Society and 3 of these members (including your editor) were privileged to be invited to Husum in the spring of -1997 to join with the local choral society (Theodor Storm Choir) in a series of meetings and two concerts.


The first morning we were greeted by the Burgomeister (or Town mayor) in the Town Hall (the only ugly modern building in the town) with the press in attendance - it was a very high profile visit and well reported in the local press - and then into rehearsals. Most of the next two days were spent in rehearsal or performance and evening socialising but there was some time to explore the town. Our concert hall was St. Marienkirche ( St. Mary's Church) in the town centre where, on the Sunday morning, we joined in morning service and sang some Chorales. In the evening we joined with the Theodor Storms Choir in a performance of a Haydn and a Puccini mass. Naturally, that night there was a big party in a local hotel.


We were royally entertained and made many new friends, particularly those of us who were hosted by members of the choir as I was. One of the hosts was a local doctor - a GP and Gastroenterologist. Another host lived on a small island 3 Miles offshore, accessible
only by a regularly flooded small private railway. Imagine going home in a winters gale! The choir will be returning to Kidderminster in 2 years time when Kidderminster Choral Society has its centenary. One question I continue to ask myself is why inland Kidderminster is twinned with seaside Husum. We shall never know but it certainly works.

Graeme Wilcox

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Tennis 1997

Around 20 people turned out for the annual mix-in of medics and their guests at Bewdley Tennis Club and the numbers would have been considerably greater but for holiday commitments. Even so, there were more than enough players to keep the courts occupied from six o'clock in the evening until late night takeaway time. Husbands and wives tended to be deployed on opposite sides of the net to avoid outbreaks of marital war over who should have played that mid-court volley or smash. The result was tennis in perfect harmony. Rachel Ward managed to mis- cue her first forehand drive somewhere into Shropshire but apart from that one lost ball, the various doubles partners quickly settled down to some respectable tennis and plenty of rallies were enjoyed by all.


Jenny Frow wore two hats on this sweltering summer's day; in her role as club player and also in her capacity as Bewdley chairman. Jenny was still busy watering the parched clay courts while the rest were slaking their thirsts in the bar. The general consensus of opinion is that this relaxed, who-cares-who-wins fixture should become an established annual event. The more the merrier nextyear

Mike Ward

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Are Doctors Duffers


Shortly after the end of this years' University Challenge competition, an item appeared an item appeared in one of the Sunday papers which I thought to be extremely thought provoking and certainly very relevant to my medical training and also possibly that of many of the readers of this newsletter. I have therefore included an abridged version of the item below.


Why are people so surprised that the Open University walloped Charing Cross Hospital in University Challenge? The students of Charing Cross, like medical students everywhere, are extremely intelligent products of a rigid vocational training system that channels them away from all "irrelevant" knowledge towards their professional destiny of doctordom. Medicine is almost monastic in the singularity of its training. I know a Cambridge-educated psychiatrist who never read a single newspaper, poem or novel in her time studying medicine. She lived, breathed and sweated medical school without any of the distractions, pleasures and frivolities that are central to true university education. Medical schools steal youth. They are totalitarian in the way they commandeer time and subservience. All the normal considerations of real learning are subordinated to the witless disciplines of the examination schedule. The entire process of education - of stimulation, of questioning, of analysis, of the dialectic of mistake and correction - is subverted by the polar world of complete authority and complete obedience. The young students of Charing Cross are not to be blamed for what happened to them on University Challenge. Their performance reflects not their intelligence, but the soul-destroying educational process unique to medicine almost everywhere. And their searing evening need not be in vain. If it taught them lifelong modesty as doctors, it will have been the finest half hours education they have ever received. 

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PAYSCALES FROM A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT


The BMA bleats that GPs' wages have fallen 60% behind those of comparable professions; unfortunately, the bleating is about as affective as the bleating of those little Iambs that end up on the dinner plates. But is comparing GPs' wages with other professions the right way of looking at the whole concept of what we are worth? Let us look at it from a totally different point of view and then listen to the arguments. I have tried to be conservative in my estimates, and naturally my timetable has varied over the last 33 years. But taking into account all those 'extras', my 23 hours of
surgery, many nights on call, sessions in casualty and the 'could you have a quick look' from the nurses, I think 250 patients a week is a reasonable estimate. Multiply that by 52 and we have an annual total of 13,000 patient consultations a year. Ah, you may say, but what about all those holidays you've had? I will counter that by saying that I have not taken into account the cover I have provided for my partners when they were on holiday and those horrific Christmas and Boxing Days I remember well. So let us settle on 250 a week. Multiply the 13,000 by my 33 years and we come to a grand total of 430,000 NHS patient consultations of one sort or another in my professional career so far.


So what do we place that grand total against in the comparative ring that is being refereed by the BMA? How about what I have cost the NHS over the same period. Not an easy calculation, but if we look at what I am worth now and take into account that magic word DYNAMISING, we can come to a figure. I earn 56,000 at the moment and if we dynamise that over 33 years I should have earned 1,848,000 - I wish the NHS pensions people would agree on that figure, but that is not what we are talking about at the moment. Add to that the 100,000 which it cost the very generous taxpayer to train me and, once again being generous, I have cost the country a total of 2 million pounds - sounds good so I'll say it again, 2,000,000 II!


Now is the time to get back to the arithmetic. 430,000 patients over 33 years at a total cost of two million pounds. I think, and correct me if I am wrong, but this works out at 4.65 a consultation. I agree I am not taking into account the cost of premises, cost rent schemes, practice staff allowances, drug budgets etc etc. But if we start going into those considerations we are departing from the initial argument - what am I as a GP getting for the time I have devoted to the NHS for the last 33 years - 4.65 a consultation. I somehow don't think that any of the comparable professions the BMA is talking about could stay away from the soup kitchens if their take home pay wasbased on the same parameters!!

A Non BMA Member

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MAGDI M LABIB


Appointed as a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist to Kidderminster Health Care NHS Trust from 1st February 1996. I studied medicine at Cairo University, Egypt, and qualified in 1976 (MB, BCH). I started to practice obstetrics and gynaecology in 1978 in Egypt, and then came over to the United Kingdom in November 1980 for further post- graduate training and education. I became a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in January 1984 (MRCOG). I held several posts in the NHS as a senior house officer and registrar at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford and Dover, Kent; South Cleveland Hospital, Middlesbrough Cleveland and the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske, Truro, Cornwall which gave me a wide I and varied experience in obstetrics and gynaecology.


At that point I was looking for a change and challenging time which I found when II  joined the British Army! I joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in October 1989 having I qualified from the Royal Academy, Sandhurst, as an Army Medical Officer. I served in I Germany for 2 years as a senior registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at the British  Military Hospital, Rinteln, following which I was seconded to the Princess Anne Hospital, University of Southampton for further training and experience.ln March 1993 I was appointed as a Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot; the biggest Service hospital in the UK.


I enjoyed tremendously my time in the army working in a different atmosphere to the NHS. Social life as an army officer was fun, enjoying regimental functions as well as traditional parties in a close society with many colleagues and friends. The closure or theCambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot with the amalgamation of the tri- services, coincided with the end of my short service commission in March 1996. I have returned to the NHS and
was very fortunate to get my post at Kidderminster with its close knit society similar to the army atmosphere. I was also amazed to find other colleagues from the services joining Kidderminster either shortly before my appointment or soon after to the extent that we are thinking of changing the name of the hospital!


My main professional interest is gynaecological endoscopy and obstetric ultrasound. I believe that the new advances in gynaecological endoscopy
will help in offering better treatment for menstrual disorders. With the help of Kidderminster NHS Trust Management Team, I have established a new one stop clinic for menstrual disorders with the use of out patient hysteroscopy from July 1997.


On the family front, myself and my wife Afaf {who is a doctor as well} have settled at our new home just outside Droitwich. We have been overjoyed and blessed by the arrival of little George 1 0 months ago at Ronskwood after a big gap! We have two other lovely girls, Marian 12 and Jacqueline 10. We have enjoyed living in this lovely part of the world for the last 18 months and have made a lot of friends especially through the Kidderminster Medical Society. I look forward to providing an excellent service with the help of my colleagues to the
 

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A POTTED AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A NEW MEMBER


I first drew breath in 1933 having been born in my grandparents' hotel in Brighton. In 1937 a brother was born and in 1938 my parents moved to London where I shortly afterwards developed TB. No streptomycin in those days; only fresh air and hope. Eighteen months convalescence in Littlehampton saw me cured and I have never been offered a BCG since.


With the onset of the Blitz we moved to Thatcham in Berkshire and my formal education started at the village school where I was the only pupil that year to gain, by way of the 11 +, a free place at Newbury Grammar School. After the War the family moved back to London, and since Newbury Grammar School had close connections with the City of London School, transfer there would have been easy. This was not to be since my Mother's cousin, an academic prodigy qualifying in Medicine at age 20, had gone to Thomas Parmiter's School and that was to be my fate. Matriculation was safely achieved but the turbulent emotions of the teenage years and a passion for Modem Jazz coupled with a clerical error in noting the exact date of one of the subjects at Highers resulted in a disaster. National Service in the RAF followed. This I enjoyed because of the physical fitness and of course the company. The most important outcome however, was the firing of my ambition; being the lowest form of animal life did not appeal, and after that my mind was wonderfully concentrated. After the RAF a year at Chelsea Polytechnic saw me safely though the 1 st MB, the entry to a medical education. My choice was for Dentistry and Professor Bradlaw offered me a place at Newcastle and the rest as they say is history.

During my dental education I enrolled in an extra-mural course in Philosophy and Psychology, but fortunately I had learnt my lesson and I survived this rather better than the Jazz and emotions of my teenage years. At the end of 1962 I married and took up a Practice and Branch in Southampton. In 1964 and 1967 a son and then daughter were born. In approximate terms I spent the '60s, '70s and '80s in General Dental Practice, the last twenty years in a very happy partnership in Ipswich with Richard Ringrose, a Guy's man. A case of the rough with the smooth! Clearly I had enjoyed the best years of the NHS; broadly I had only to practise Dentistry and not worry too much about the entrepreneurial side. I loved practice but I suspect that I love retirement even more. One ambition however remains: I hope to be a Pensioner for as long as I was a tax-payer.

Leonard Sterling - Retired dental practitioner
 

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A NEW SURGICAL FACE


My first years were decidedly cosmopolitan. With my father in the airlines I spent my early years in the Far and Middle East, then Italy and Switzerland. Not surprisingly my first passion was for flying and so it was natural that I should wish to train as a pilot in the RAF This, however, was how I discovered I needed glasses! Recovering from that I opted for Medicine and entered Manchester Medical School, qualifying in 1978.


From the beginning I intended to take up Surgery and began to develop my interest in Colorectal surg~ry with Professor Sir Miles Irving in Salford. An Anatomy Demonstratorship followed, then Casualty, and then a two year SHO rotation in Plymouth. After two years as a Registrar in Gloucester I hit the bottle- neck and decided to switch to Accident and Emergency Medicine. By now I had gained my Private Pilots Licence and this renewed my interest in the Royal Air Force. I joined up in 1987 and spent a very happy fourteen months on the Tornado base at RAF Conningsby in Lincolnshire.

 A definite high spot was a flight in a Tornado fighter at supersonic speed over the Mediterranean during a detachment to Cyprus! Low level through the Welsh valleys in a Hawk was also spectacular. During my Service I was posted to Cyprus, Turkey and Germany, and was seconded to the Army to spend the Gulf War in a forward Field Hospital in the Northern Saudi desert. The Defence Cuts decimated the Medical Branches of all three Services and it became obvious that a military career in General Surgery was no longer possible. After a lot of heart searching I had no real choice but to resign and rejoin the NHS. I was appointed to Kidderminster nine months ago where I am developing my interest in Colorectal Disease.

Tony Wetherall

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