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Brief Encounters: Dr Peter Stott

A short interview with Dr Peter Stott, a GP with a multi-stranded career encompassing TV work, publishing and GPSI work in diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity.

A short interview with Dr Peter Stott, a GP with a multi-stranded career encompassing TV work, publishing and GPSI work in diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity.


What made you want to be a doctor?

Originally I didn't want to be a doctor. I only did biology because my father refused to tell me the facts of life.

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

All doctors should have a specialty interest, both GPs and hospital specialists. We should all tread on one another's toes.

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

The psychoanalyst Tom Main, a pupil of Michael Balint at the Tavistock Clinic. He taught me to use the feelings inspired in me by patients as objectively as my stethoscope, and to feed back to patients what their behaviour inspired in others.

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

Care will be managed by insurance-based corporations. Doctors will work in managed care systems to protocols led by clinical directors. State healthcare will be one of a group of offerings, which will include private healthcare supplements, enhanced services, life and health insurance, and discounts on travel.

I fear medicine will protect itself from people. The requirements of litigation and data gathering will become more important than the doctor-patient relationship.

What makes you angry?

That young salaried doctors are being exploited. They would have become partners if Kenneth Clarke had not removed the partnership allowance and replaced it with capitated practice income.

What makes you happy?

Being with people who are open-minded and comfortable with change.

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

Flying. I have a pilot's licence and a share in a Cessna 172. My current preoccupation is getting to the Outer Hebrides.

What newspaper do you read?

The Guardian. I would read The Independent but my wife's family were Old Labour.

How do you relax?

Playing the piano, which I try to do for half an hour every day. And swimming.

How interested are you in money?

Young GPs are interested in money. Older GPs know it does not bring happiness and by their mid 50s are very well off anyway. I had cancer when I was 50 and am grateful to be still alive. I am now only interested in furthering the interests of patients and the NHS in my area.

Is medicine a vocation?

I can't think of many people for whom medicine is a true vocation. I prefer to think of it as combining knightly altruism with knavish self-interest – a combination of vocation and professionalism.

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

A doctor, but a different sort. There are so many careers in medicine besides working full-time as a clinician. As you get older you recognise that every other profession is populated by idiots and that you could have done a far better job than most of them.

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

The days of big money are gone, but you will always have an interesting working environment. If you like people, go for it.

If you don't, do something else.

Your most embarrassing work experience?

I once did a talk on common conditions to our local Mother's Union. I was using slides I had photographed myself and one person recognised their own tail end.

What is the best thing about a portfolio career?

It has enabled me to take an interest in academic medicine, publishing, TV and NHS management. But I could never have done it without the insight of being an ordinary NHS GP. However, a portfolio career is insecure and jobs are short term.

Any thoughts on involvement in GP politics?

It's difficult to do anything without stepping on someone else's vested interest. You have to avoid areas in which you have no interest, or those you will never change, and those where the people are so awful that the meetings are unbearable.

How do you balance work and family life?

I work hard during the week, often from 5am until 10pm. I delegate as much as possible. I listen to my wife's wisdom and take a long weekend off every fortnight.

Dr Peter Stott CV CV

Dr Peter Stott is a portfolio GP in Tadworth, Surrey.

In addition to working as a GP principal for 30 years, he has held posts as a university academic, medical director of a publishing company, adviser to Granada Television, and most recently as medical director of Epsom Downs Integrated Care Services (EDICS). He has special interests in diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity.

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