Why I’m not retiring

Why do so many of us stay GPs?

‘I am still excited about it 30 years on and my main role now is to inspire students and trainees as to what a great job it is. And before anybody asks, no I am not retiring – I could do if I wanted to, but I want to carry on being a GP.’

If given a choice again, would I still want to be a GP – yes, yes, yes.The thought of being a super specialist seeing the same issues every day and being micromanaged in secondary care, do not appeal. GPs still have autonomy. They have a big voice in shaping local healthcare services.

Would I stay in the UK? – Yes, yes, yes. I have worked in New Zealand as a GP for a year. Yes it’s great, but it’s not the UK and it’s not healthcare for all as there is a fee-for-service to see the GP. The NHS is unique. I have made visits in my university role to see family physicians in Australia, USA and Hong Kong. The UK is the only place I would want to be a GP as it is the place where you can make a real difference for a patient as healthcare provision is at the point of need and delivery is free for the patient.

Yes, there are lots of issues in the NHS for all of us being undervalued and demoralized, not least junior doctors, but we have it within our remit to change these things, cherish the principle of the NHS of healthcare for all, particularly those who need it most, who under any other system might not get the care.

There are many good reasons to become a GP

We should talk about and promote each of these as they are important to aid recruitment and retention in general practice:

  • It is well paid with a good future pension.
  • Out-of-hours work and weekends are optional.
  • Job satisfaction in the continuity and personal nature of the care you provide – patients refer to you as ‘my doctor’.
  • It’s not about coughs and colds – a GP is a general physician managing complex conditions.
  • Seeing people get better and being there when they don’t – a GP is the patient’s advocate and companion on many journeys.
  • Managing, not being managed – you are in charge of your working day.
  • Every day is different and interesting.


There are huge opportunities in general practice. GPs get a chance to develop and shape a service at the heart of the community. You work for your patients which will be a very rewarding career as it is possible to make a real difference in the lives of those that need it.

Despite the struggles in the NHS in relation to increasing workload and under resourcing, we can really make a difference to our patients lives and that is what matters.

Rodger Charlton is a GPProfessor of Primary Care Education at Leicester Medical School and an Honorary Professor of Medical Education at Swansea University. He has a keen interest in undergraduate education and as a GP Trainer witparticular interest in end-of-life care.

Rodger qualified from Birmingham in 1983 and then completed an MPhil thesis in Medical Ethics. Shortly afterwards he became a part-time Lecturer in General Practice at Nottingham University. In 1991-2, he was a visiting fellow at the University of Otago Medical School, New Zealand, researching into the perceived needs of undergraduates in palliative medicine education towards his MD thesis. In 1994 he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Primary Health Care at Keele University. In 2001 he was awarded the RCGP John Fry Award. In 2003 he became the Director of GP Undergraduate Medical Education at Warwick Medical School and an Associate Clinical Professor. From 2012-2016 he was again at Nottingham University and from 2013 was appointed to a personal chair of primary care education and as Director of the Primary Care Education Unit. He has completed 7 textbooks including; “Primary Palliative Care: Dying, Death & Bereavement in the Community” Radcliffe Medical Press.

He remains an active GP in Hampton-in-Arden in the West MidlandsHe is a keen cricketer both as a life member of Leicestershire County Cricket Club and as a leg spin bowler for his village cricket team.

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