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At the heart of general practice since 1960

CV: Dr Peter Holden

What/who made you decide to go into general practice?

I have a short attention span and don't tolerate educated fools gladly. A&E had no real formal training programmes in the early 1980s. Following the 'winter of discontent' in 1978/9 I wanted to be self-employed, not working in a hospital, live in a rural community, and yet have a real daily professional challenge. Rural general practice with an active community hospital, with an A&E unit, seemed the best compromise and allowed for special interests. Today, making the same choices, I might well choose a career in the armed forces specialising in emergency medicine after doing GP training.

What would you have done if you hadn't been a doctor?

A career in the RAF was a definite possibility. I got through the officer and aircrew selection centre procedures as a teenager. The other alternative was the law.

What's your career high-point so far?

According to my colleagues and others in the emergency services, getting it mostly right with very few resources and no prompt cards as Medical Incident Commander at BMA House on 7 July, 2005. Their written citations are truly humbling. All victims bar one who entered BMA House left it in better shape than they arrived.

And the low-points?

Getting a few things wrong on 7 July. And, of course, Black Wednesday of the new contract.

Anything interesting on your surgery/office wall?

Serial photographs at one-year intervals of my wife Pauline and young son Edward sitting in the Air Ambulance helicopter on which I currently serve as medical aircrew. A constant reminder of the things that matter to me when the going is tough.

What leisure interests do you/ would you list on your Who's Who entry?

Motor cars, motor sports, flying, conversation, fine wines and fine food.

What's your fantasy career move?

Part-time immediate care physician, part-time president of the GMC with no loss of current income or pension rights. The first is real medicine in real time, and the latter organisation is unreal, running out of time, and needs sorting out!

What's your greatest mistake in your career so far?

Being in London on 7 July ­ doubtless this view will mellow over time.

Peter Holden has served on the GPC for 25 years, BMA council for 16 years and Central Consultants and Specialists Committee for 10 years, and is honorary secretary of the British Association for Immediate Care

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