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Brief Encounters: Dr David Watt, vice-president of the UK Balint Society


Dr David Watt

Age 55

Location Newham, east London

Role Part-time GP principal in an eight-partner/16,000-patient practice, and vice-president of UK Balint Society. The aim of the society is to help all health care professionals to gain a better understanding of the emotional content of the clinical relationship.

What’s the best thing about your role?

Meeting GPs, other doctors and psychotherapists from all from the UK and all over the world, and comparing our work.

What was your ‘big break’ in your role?

Organising the successful International Balint Congress in Oxford in 1998 with a great team.

What’s the hardest thing about combining your role with a career in general practice?

Time necessary to plan meetings and manage an organisation - but a change is as good as a rest, as they say.

What’s the most common assumption GPs make about your role?

That doctors with Balint training are just ‘touchy-feely’ and that they take ages seeing their patients.

How would your patients describe you?

Caring but a bit hurried - not relaxed enough.

What’s your worst habit?

Not letting people finish what they want to say - although I don’t do this with patients!

What one trait do you most deplore in your colleagues?

Deplore is too strong, but not managing their workload well.

Name one living person who inspires you.

Several of my patients inspire me.

How would you like be to remembered?

As a good personal doctor.

What’s the most common advice you give patients?

To wait and see, with me at their side (metaphorically).

What’s the best piece of advice your GP trainer gave you?

To join a Balint group.

At work, when are you happiest?

When I’m with patients and colleagues.

What makes you angry?

The Department of Health.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Working this year with Professor Clare Gerada and the RCPsych to promote Balint work in the NHS to help patients and doctors.

What was your most embarrassing consultation?

This involves unexpected patient nudity in the consultation room.

What’s the worst thing a patient’s ever said to you?

Probably when one patient called me a racist.

What’s the worst thing about being a GP?

Increasing Government bureaucracy.

What’s the best thing about being a GP?

The doctor-patient relationship.