A Highland GP on life the universe and anything…

2018 hasn’t been the best year. But it has harboured one joyous milestone: the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS. Yet whilst we celebrate this jewel of the British way of life it has also been a year when the sustainability of this method of delivering our healthcare has been questioned. Beset by spiralling costs and staff shortages, where we go next? In the North of Scotland this has become especially evident in rural areas. We know from the press that Moray, Caithness, Skye and Argyll are struggling to deliver the care we have come to expect. What is less known is how, over one hundred years ago, a previous crisis in health care provision led to the very creation of the NHS Read the rest of this entry »


It’s now 25 years since I welcomed my first patients to the consulting room I still occupy.

While plenty has changed since then – thank goodness for computers instead of bulging manila files of notes! – others remain the same. I’ve still got the same view over to Ross County’s football ground with Ben Wyvis behind. But perhaps the greatest constant has been my patients.

I still see many of the same people I saw as a green young doctor. In many ways, we’ve grown up together and, over time, that forges a unique relationship. Read the rest of this entry »

Last month marked twenty-five years of me being a partner at Dingwall Medical Group, astonishingly, consulting from the same room throughout all those years. During this awesome quarter-century I have developed many strong and meaningful relationships with my patients, – some of whom I did not find easy in the early days, though I’m pretty sure they may have felt the same way about me. However, it is many of these patients of whom I now find myself the most fond. I have grown to understand what matters to them and, having walked with some of them though their medical journey over the last 25 years, I get great satisfaction from not only understanding what they most need from me but also, learning what they see as of no benefit to them whatsoever. Read the rest of this entry »

“So, are you just a GP?”

I can feel Erica, my wife, stiffen whenever I’m asked this question – and I’m asked it a lot.

That little word just. With its hints of hierarchies; implying GPs are lesser doctors than others.

I am a GP. It is the most rewarding, challenging and satisfying job I can imagine. There is nothing I would rather be doing.

Who else can look after peoples’ complex medical problems and mental health issues often in the most deprived social environments? GPs are uniquely placed to forge the long-term relationships which provide comprehensive and coordinated care to people, right from their very first contact with the NHS – work that has repeatedly been shown not only to save lives but also to prevent the most vulnerable from falling through the cracks in our society. Read the rest of this entry »

Lunch Club is legendary. Community groups like these can be low-key and unassuming but can transform the lives of those involved. Coming together for a bowl of soup, home baking, chat and activities, it’s a milestone in the week and an opportunity for the community to show some solidarity.

I see the consequences of isolation every day. Modern hi-tech medicine with scanners, surgery and medicines is all very well but unless we are able to recognise and influence the wider determinants of health, our work can feel futile, the miraculous technology redundant.

Each of us will have individual building blocks for a healthy life. It is more than just avoiding well-known harms from alcohol, tobacco, street drugs and poor diet. It’s also about building in the good things in life such as social contact, exercise and fresh air. We all benefit from structure in our week, feeling connected and having purpose in our lives but there’s often a gap to be bridged between our knowledge and our actions. Read the rest of this entry »


My latest blog calling for an end to badmouthing of other specialties was published on GMC website.

You can read it here

It is time for an end to this sort of attitude and behaviour.

A great privilege of my role in RCGP is access to fascinating reports from across the country. I am very grateful to those who shared Alice’s report of time spent undertaking GP work experience as a school student wishing to follow a medical career. Here is what she wrote, shared with her permission: –

I have always enjoyed the practical application of science and I love working with people. I am studying for my AS levels currently with the intention of possibly applying to study medicine but wanted to find out more. I had managed to arrange a few days work experience at my local hospital. Although I had visited a GP a few times in my life I wasn’t really too sure of all that they did during their day in the surgery. I found it hard to get any work experience to see if this would be an area of work that would interest me. Read the rest of this entry »