1. Dr Faye Kirkland
'Empowers the marginalised'
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This London GP has rewritten the rules of what it means to be a media GP. For Dr Kirkland doesn’t just provide commentary on the world of general practice – she has forged a niche as an intrepid investigative journalist, using her unique perspective as a practising GP to help expose hidden scandals within the health sector this year.
Her work has been prominent, featuring on leading BBC programmes and in the Guardian. And this is no idle hobby – her journalism has brought about real change. Her story on websites failing to follow guidelines when offering to treat gonorrhea led the Chief Medical Officer to write to online providers and pharmacists, stating that patients should be treated by their GP or a sexual health clinic.
Then in October, her investigation for BBC Radio 5 live into online GP services that prescribe antibiotics based on a simple questionnaire led the CQC to take action. So far, the regulator has only found one such provider that offers safe services.
Dr Kirkland also obtained leaked A&E data that showed NHS England and NHS Improvement appeared to be creating a six-week lag before releasing performance information on emergency departments. This was the subject of the first question asked by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions this year.
But the highlight of her year was none of these. She says: ‘My favourite moment from the past 12 months was meeting Sir Elton John after an investigation I did for Radio 4’s You and Yours and the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC 2, on a lack of HIV testing in high-prevalence areas.’
Rocket Man aside, she says she chose journalism as she can use her experience as a GP to investigate health and medical topics. ‘The aim is to highlight issues to the public, to allow debate and ultimately to create change for the better,’ she says.
Dr Kirkland’s work has rightly been recognised this year. She was awarded ‘best newcomer’ by the Association of British Science Writers, highly commended in the Medical Journalist’s Association awards, and was a finalist in the ‘best investigative journalism’ category at the Association of British Science Writers’ awards.
Some feat for a GP who is still in practice 30 hours a week, including out-of-hours shifts. She is definitely one to watch in the coming year.
What others say ‘Faye searches for stories that will empower marginalised patients’