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Independents' Day

Brief encounters - Dr Fay Wilson

The first in a new series of interviews with GPs focussing on their careers, why they chose the options they did and the biggest influences on them.

The first in a new series of interviews with GPs focussing on their careers, why they chose the options they did and the biggest influences on them.

What made you want to be a doctor?

The belief that I could make people better.

What single thing would most improve the state of medicine in the UK?

Public education and engagement by members of the public with their own health.

What single change would most improve your working life?

The abandonment of targets set for political reasons.

Who has had the biggest influence on you as a doctor?

Norman Winstone, the consultant surgeon with whom I was a medical student and PRHO, and my GP trainer Frank Cole.

Which historical figure in medicine do you most admire?

Imhotep, in 2600 BC – the first GP and architect of the first Egyptian pyramid.

What do you think will be the biggest change in general practice over the next 10 years?

Depersonalisation of NHS general practice and its incorporation into large integrated healthcare providers accompanied by growth in the private GP sector.

What makes you angry?


What makes you happy?

A job well done within the financial limits.

Which book would you recommend as a must read for every GP?

A Fortunate Man: The Story of a Country Doctor by John Berger and photographer Jean Mohr, published in 1968.

What newspaper do you read?

Anything, but no red tops or Daily Mail.

How is the modern GP different from their counterpart of a generation ago?

Targets, targets, targets! The GP belongs to the state, not the patients.

How interested are you in money?

I worry if money is short – less interested when I have enough to give away.

Is medicine a vocation?

It should be. Things go wrong when it isn't.

Are any members of your family doctors?

A younger cousin.

If you weren't a doctor what would you be?

A manager.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a doctor?

Look long and hard at whether you can cope with disappointment and have a second career option in case you don't make it.

What has been your most embarrassing work experience?

Persuading the mental health team to see a patient urgently, who diagnosed the physical cause for the patient's unresponsiveness (it's a long story...).

What is the best thing about a portfolio career such as yours?


And what is the worst?

Lack of continuity, especially with patients.

Why did you get involved in GP politics?

By accident, when they were conscripting ‘volunteers' at the GP trainee half-day release scheme: I opted for the committee that nobody knew anything about, except that it happened quarterly instead of monthly – the UK GP trainees subcommittee.

Have you ever suffered sexist attitudes from colleagues?

Yes, both overt and institutional.

How do you relax?

Music, food, theatre, talking books, sudoku.

If you had £200 to treat yourself, how would you spend it?

A day in a health spa.

What is your secret for balancing work and family life?

Not sure I do manage this! Learn to live with a full in-tray at work, don't take work home, cook and eat meals together and talk to your family.

Dr Fay Wilson

Dr Fay Wilson is a sessional doctor with a portfolio career. She is secretary of several LMCs covering north-west London and also chair of the LMCs conference and a member of the BMA council. She has a particular inDr Fay Wilson

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