A star of GPs Behind Closed Doors and partner at Farnham Road Surgery in Slough has been named as a Thames Hospice GP Champion.
Dr Jim ODonnell, who is also NHS Clinical Commissioning lead for Slough, qualified in 1978 at the National University of Ireland. After completing his GP training in Portsmouth in 1982 his career took him to Iraq until 1988, followed by a cardiology research post at Wexham Park Hospital.
After some years in the pharmaceutical industry researching novel treatments for heart disease, the pull of General Practice brought him back to working as a full-time GP.
Like most GPs of his age, retirement or thoughts of retirement loom, but not for Jim, he is happiest when serving the community he has come to know so well.
Jim approached Thames Hospice last year with the idea of creating a community of GPs to support the charity. He expressed his concern for the physical and mental welfare of GPs once they give up working completely. Perhaps this community of GPs could support one another in the run up to retirement. It is also often forgotten that the family of the new retiree will also have to make adjustments. This community of GPs could also be a giving circle, and research would seem to indicate "Doing Good Does You Good".
The effect of the retirement of a GP can be huge for a practice, especially as they already struggle to hire young qualified GPs. The loss of local knowledge and patient knowledge within the community can be devastating.
He proposed that at retirement age GPs should gradually reduce their working hours to ease them into retirement. He says: "I am aware that this might not be for every GP, but it is especially suited to those in receipt of their NHS occupational pension who feel driven to continue working as the best way of serving the nation."
Jim who is now in receipt of that occupational pension whilst continuing to work, makes a substantial donation from his GP salary to Thames Hospice each month: "For me, the whole point in being alive is to serve others and improve their lives. Being a GP helps me in this quest, and the best examples today of serving others are local charities.
"To me, the ultimate charity is Thames Hospice because how well each of us dies is central to how well we live. Serving well those who are dying is noble, and becoming a GP Champion to support this work feels so worthwhile. I don't think I could do it better in any other way. This feels so right, and fills me with a lasting joy."
Sarah Bissell, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Thames Hospice, says: "We are absolutely delighted to have Jim as Thames Hospices Champion. Our work at the hospice depends upon strong relationships with our local GPs and we are delighted that Jim has championed this excellent new circle of giving so that local GPs can contribute to continued hospice care in our community."
If you're feeling inspired by Jim's story and would like find out how you can support Thames Hospice, email us or call 01753 842121.