Today I reach 60 years of age. This is a milestone birthday mainly because I’m retiring from general practice. I’ve worked in Ballochmyle Medical Group since I was 27. Since then I’ve seen huge changes.
Lloyd George envelopes for records, which had been used since 1948, were diligently assembled into A4 files in the late 80s, and then computerisation started in the mid 90s. In the 80s days doctors had to guess the diagnosis or open someone up, but today MRI and CAT scans and many more keyhole, radiological and diagnostic procedures make diagnosis faster and easier, at least for the doctor.
The single handed and small group GP practice doing all their own surgeries, visits and on call, have thankfully been replaced by large practices with GPs and nurses specialising in different areas. They are supported by in house Pharmacists, Physios, Mental Health nurses and Podiatrists. GPs work very long, intense days now, but they have appointment slots of 10-15 minutes instead of 7.5 which was standard. Many also have largely given up working out of hours and large health board run groups of doctors, nurses, paramedics and drivers do this now.
I used to have Ordinance Survey and Street Maps covering all Ayrshire in the car, and still have, but locating a house or farm is now so much easier with in car GPS systems. We relied on land line phones and answering machines and pages. Now we have mobile phones that are so smart we can watch TV on them and see as well as speak to patients via skype just like Captain Kirk and Dr Bones McCoy did in the 60s on Star Trek.
When I entered medical school in 1977, it was the first year that half of the students were women. Now there are about 3 or 4 women for every man. It was normal to be a full time GP but now most GPs prefer to work part time. Maternity leave used to be 3 months and now it is a year.
Diabetes monitoring was very primitive, with glucose sticks as the main way of monitoring with venous blood samples when a patient was acutely ill when I was in medical school. In the 80s BM blood testing stix were a major advance acutely and the HbA1C test used for long term information. Personal blood glucose monitors were a major advance. These can give visual information on your computer or meter. In the last few years these have been trumped by the Freestyle Libre Flash system.
The outlook for diabetic patients is also much better. There is more accurate information about dietary choices, a lot of varied insulin regimes to choose from and better patient education and partnership.
I will be leaving my GP practice and my complementary therapy and private practice but will be continuing my police and prison work, legal work and diabetes education work via this blog.
Emma and I will continue to update you on all matters diabetic and I hope you all continue to enjoy visiting.