Dr Duncan's story is a little tonic for us all - Scotsman leader comment

How spiriting to hear that you are never too old to make new and good things happen.

Dr John Duncan has become a first time author at the age of 88.
Dr John Duncan has become a first time author at the age of 88.

Dr John Duncan, a retired consultant anaesthetist and GP, of Edinburgh, has had his first book published at the age of 88, with a lifetime’s work with the NHS distilled into his premier publication, which has left him “absolutely thrilled”.

The Best of Health - Tales out of Medical School – recounts his training at the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in the 1950s and 1960s, which he describes as the ‘golden age’ of the health service.

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Dr Duncan, who only started writing five years ago, is also enjoying a very fine period and reminds us that life is a gift that can keep giving, despite how things may feel at the moment.

Born into a family of industrial potters in Stoke, he applied to medical school in Edinburgh to meet a challenge set down by his then girlfriend’s father. It was a case of challenge accepted and met.

He recounts such tight spots as administering a general anaesthetic without any training and the inspiring open address of Professor Sir Derrick Dunlop, a doyen of the medical profession and then a household name.

The words of Sir Derrick have continued to ring on given he outlined the privilege of working in the NHS, where patients could be prescribed what they needed, and not what they could afford.

Later in life, writing became the best prescription for Dr Duncan – and his story is a little tonic for us all.

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