Richard Churchill is a retired GP and retired Clinical Associate Professor of Primary Care, University of Nottingham.
Ilove stories. Stories provide focus for our memories and give meaning to experience. Michael Dixon’s memoirs of life as a country doctor are teeming with such stories, told with honesty and authenticity, and including both successes and failures. The tales will resonate with readers who will recognise the humour and poignancy with which they are conveyed.
But this is far more than a book of romantic nostalgia looking back at what some would call ‘the golden age of general practice’, because it is also intended to both confront and to challenge.
The book falls naturally into four parts: the first describes the author’s journey from early life up until becoming a GP in a rural practice; the next chapters are themed in a rather unexpected order, progressing from a chapter about sex to one about death, and then from birth to madness, each one containing a rich mixture of anecdotes.
Having relaxed comfortably into rural reminiscences the third part challenges the modern oversimplified medical model that is so often applied to patients nowadays. For those doctors who have nothing else in their professional armoury this can cause immeasurable frustration and ultimately burnout. Whilst fully endorsing the advances of scientific medicine and technology Michael Dixon describes how he recognised the inadequacies of conventional medicine and started to explore complementary approaches including approaches now widely accepted such as social prescribing.
This book is about healing, with kindness, compassion, time, hope, love ….. but sadly at risk of becoming a thing of the past.
This book is about healing, with kindness, compassion, time, hope, love and belief being essential components. These are exemplified in the proven therapeutic value of a trusting long-term doctor-patient relationship, depicted in so many of the stories told, but sadly at risk of becoming a thing of the past.
But the final part of the book is not about individual patients. It is about the ailments afflicting general practice, the NHS, and society as a whole. With compelling insight Michael Dixon describes the symptoms and underlying causes of the ‘disease’ and then proposes radical measures for its cure. Will the Covid-19 crisis provide the opportunity for reflection and healing as he suggests that it might? Only time will tell.
Michael Dixon, 2020. Time to Heal, Tales of a Country Doctor. Unicorn Publishing Group, London.