Dr Tony Grewal looks like he belongs to another age, when men grew impressive facial hair and wore top hats, but you get the impression that he would hit you where it hurts if he thought you deserved it.
And it is this steely common sense that makes him such an impressive local GP leader. Regularly taking on the NHS London regional team and the GMC is just part of the day job when you’re tasked with defending general practice in a city that is battling more than its fair share of problems.
Nominated specifically for his ‘support for London GPs’, the medical director for Londonwide LMCs has faced a regular caseload of issues that would overwhelm a lesser man. In the past 12 months, for example, he has supported practices taking legal action against NHS bosses for breach notices after they closed on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
London has seen around 52,000 patients displaced after 22 practice closures, putting great strain on neighbouring surgeries. Dr Grewal has battled to defend smaller practices, which he says are being allowed to fail by NHS England.
He has also been there for individual GPs in difficult times, steering colleagues through criminal court hearings, GMC hearings, performers list hearings, partnership disputes and refresher course examinations, and helping all of them take steps back into independent practice.
He helped two practices through year-long merger negotiations and has kept on top of communicating professional issues to GPs across London.
‘All these achievements were only possible because of the magnificent teams at Londonwide LMCs, whose hard work, expertise and cheerfulness make my work a paid hobby,’ he says modestly.
He has a busy inbox this year. He is currently juggling some 35 individual or practice support issues, but London GPs can feel reassured at having such a capable GP fighting their corner. And with co-commissioning, ‘new models of care’ and murmurs about devolution in the capital, they will need him.