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At the heart of general practice since 1960

CV: Dr Tim Howard

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

I think general practice was in my blood ­ my father and both grandfathers were GPs. I never really considered any other career, although I toyed with the idea of obs and gynae and anaesthetics for a while. I found the repetitive aspect of specialisation boring ­ as well as the long career pathway which was the norm in the early 1970s. General practice seemed much more challenging ­ one never knew what was coming through the door next, and I was greatly attracted to the concept of being self-employed, and being able to create one's own work environment.

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

Goodness knows. Probably a professional yacht sailor. With hindsight, I am fascinated by the law, and suspect the career path mirrors medicine in many ways. I wasn't clever enough to be a barrister.

Who's your career role model/guru?

The professor I worked for as a PRHO at Guys, John Butterfield. Despite being a brilliant and innovative physician ­ who went on to become professor of medicine at Cambridge and a life peer ­ he was an extraordinarily charismatic doctor and teacher, and achieved all this without loosing the common touch.

What's your career high-point so far?

Qualifying was an electric moment. Being offered a partnership in the practice of my choice was exciting. Becoming managing partner ­ with all the pitfalls that go with that thankless task ­ was a big step. Being appointed as a GMC associate opened new doors, which I still enjoy.

And the low-point?

Being sued by a patient who I had done my very best for, and who I thought was a friend.

Anything interesting on your surgery/office wall?

The bill sent in 1896 by my grandfather to a family for 'medical services rendered' for a three-month period ­ for £17 12s 17d. I leave it to you to work out what that would be worth today after inflation, but I promise you it is a lot more than we earn now ­ even after the QOF payments.

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

Sailing, skiing, walking in exotic places, opera, literature, and recently, attempts at sculpture!

What's your fantasy career move?

To become Secretary of State for Health. Of course it would be a poisoned chalice, but a wonderful opportunity to really tell it like it is.

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

Being too cautious. Failing to take chances early in my life and career meant I missed out on many of the exciting and innovative things that were there for the asking ­ in medicine and in life in general.

Tim Howard is a retired GP and a chair on the conduct committee of the GMC and has sat on the high-profile Meadow's case

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