The highs and lows of my life as an NHS GP
By Amir Khan
Published by Ebury Press, 20th August 2020
Dr Amir Khan is a well-known doctor who has regularly appeared on the TV show GPs Behind Closed Doors and has a large following on Twitter. Characterised by his passion for medicine, in particular the work of a GP, his Twitter feed is also full of photos of his wonderful wildlife garden, conservation information and anecdotes about his beloved mother, Mama Khan. It was, therefore, a delight to find out about his new book and I read it from cover to cover with great enjoyment and respect for him and his fellow GPs.
He writes of his patients with compassion, respect and in many cases, deep affection. Although names and circumstances have had to be changed to protect confidentiality, it is obvious from the stories he tells that his surgery takes enormous pains to provide as much continuity of care as possible, especially for patients of all ages with very complex and long-lasting or terminal conditions.
The never-ending bureaucracy that swamps the NHS has had a major impact on GP workloads and paperwork takes huge amounts of time away from direct patient contact, causing frustration for patients and doctors alike. One never to be forgotten anecdote was when he was approached in a garden centre by someone with an irritating personal rash who recognised him from TV, dropped his trousers and showed poor Dr Khan his rash in full view of other shoppers, citing his inability to get an appointment with his own GP as the reason. I needed brain bleach after reading that, and Dr Khan now goes to a different garden centre...
No matter how well you think you know the work of a GP, this book will really make you stop and think, and have a better appreciation for their work and the pressures they are under every day. This year has been especially challenging; Dr Khan's surgery was quickly directly involved on a rota system in the care of patients presenting with coronavirus symptoms at their area's Red Zone surgery and he writes movingly of his and his colleagues' anxieties and treating affected elderly patients in nursing homes, many of whom subsequently died from Covid-19.
A remarkable and enjoyable book - moving, sad and extremely amusing in places.
Many thanks to the publishers and Net Galley for allowing me to read and review this book.