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Suffolk GP Dr Andrew Yager from Botesdale Health Centre publishes book about his life as a family doctor

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A retired rural family doctor has shared his most memorable experiences of his time in general practice in a new book.

Dr Andrew Yager, 64, worked for 33 years at Botesdale Health Centre near Diss on the Suffolk/Norfolk border before embarking on retirement, which has seen him pen 'The Tales of a Suffolk GP'.

Curated as a collection of short stories spanning 40 years, it starts with his early medical training and first posting at Ipswich Hospital and traverses his time as a family doctor from the tragic, the humorous and sometimes plain bizarre.

Dr Andrew Yager who has written a book about his time as a family doctor. He is pictured with his wife Annie
Dr Andrew Yager who has written a book about his time as a family doctor. He is pictured with his wife Annie

As well as recounting his many experiences, Dr Yager, who has three children with wife Annie, takes time to reflect on how the role of the family doctor has altered dramatically, and he calls for change to the NHS to reinstate GPs to their pivotal role in the local community.

A 'poignant and amusing' picture unfolds of living in Suffolk and working as a village GP, from the early morning call-out where he blundered into the wrong house, to learning from end-of-life patients about the importance of a joyful and dignified life, to the parents who overcame the grief of their child’s death to start a new family, and not forgetting the time he discovered a genuine Renoir worth millions hanging above a patient’s bed.

The book's blurb says each of the 37 short stories can be read in isolation, however as they are in date order there is a narrative thread to the journey that spans from the time of the Falklands War to the start of the Covid pandemic.

Commenting on his book, Dr Yager, who moved to Bury St Edmunds from Rickinghall, said: “I’ve been incredibly lucky to have spent most of my career in this wonderful Suffolk community and health centre, where I have experienced many highs and lows during that time.

"The stoicism of my patients never fails to amaze me, especially those who have overcome tragedy and adversity and who remain joyful and resilient.

“Naturally, I’ve come across many characters, some of whom feature in this book, and as a GP I’ve been in the very privileged position of looking after generations of the same families.

“My motivation for writing came as a result of my retirement from general practice and a desire to record some of the many experiences I’ve had for my family, and once I got started found the process enjoyable."

The Tales of a Suffolk GP is a collection of short stories spanning 40 years
The Tales of a Suffolk GP is a collection of short stories spanning 40 years

Dr Yager, who retired from Botesdale three years ago, but is still working now in the NHS in a managerial role, told SuffolkNews being a family doctor had been 'a great job with mostly good but occasional dark times' - and he hopes the book reflects this.

He added: "The roles of the GP has changed a lot especially with the advent of the new GP contract in 2004 and recently the Covid pandemic; although we used to work long hours in the past the current role has become more intense, busier, bureaucratic with less comparable workforce and more remote working.

"Long, long term the national focus needs to be on access, and enhanced continuity of care with longer consultation times and a return to strong professional-patient relationships."

He said a story in the book that highlights how relationships are important in primary care is Diamond Dust to Stardust (chapter 13).

All proceeds from the book are being donated to Red Cross Ukraine.

Tales of a Suffolk GP can be purchased from Waterstones in the Buttermarket, Bury St Edmunds, The Leaping Hare at Wyken Vineyards, Diss Publishing, and Aldeburgh and Halesworth bookshops.