Dr Margaret McCartney, along with medical historians and GPs, tells the story of general practice from the troubled early years of the NHS to the still-troubled present day.
The NHS was a huge improvement for the general population, for hospitals and hospital doctors. But it was rather different for GPs as their private fees disappeared and their workload multiplied with all the chronic disease that had previously gone untreated. General practice was under-funded and under-loved. Scathing reports of dingy, ill-equipped surgeries, along with repeated bouts of GP unrest, finally brought about the Family Doctors Charter in 1966, leading to a much better period of subsidised health centres and staffing.
Modernisation came thick and fast from the late 1980s, with some GPs controversially given budgets to choose services for their patients. Relaxation of the "out of hours" obligation saw practices forming co-operatives to handle evening and weekend calls and, from 2004, the responsibility for providing 24 hour care was removed from GPs entirely.
But unrest has continued, with many training places unfilled, GP posts vacant, and some practices closing altogether. The programme explores how the profession evolved into its present state.
Presented by Dr Margaret McCartney
Produced by Mike Hally
A Square Dog Radio production for BBC Radio 4.