One of a small number of doctors formally trained in lifestyle medicine, I have worked in Cornwall as a GP for the last 20 years. I have also worked for several years as a Civilian Medical Doctor and Military Medical Examiner with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy and more recently as a Disability Analyst.
One of a small number of doctors formally trained in lifestyle medicine, I have worked in Cornwall as a GP for the last 20 years. I have also worked for several years as a civilian medical officer, and a military medical examiner with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy and more recently as a disability analyst.
As a GP I was very proud of the feedback that I received from my patients, consistently praising my listening skills and empathy. I have enjoyed inspiring patients to improve their lifestyle; nothing gives me greater pleasure than hearing that someone has achieved a goal like sleeping better, losing weight, gaining energy, controlling blood pressure, stopping smoking, beating depression or reversing diabetes by taking on advice and adjusting their lifestyle.
While appreciating the amazing and privileged position I had as a GP, I have always been uncomfortable with the NHS model of short consultation times, emphasis on medication and responsibility lying almost entirely with the clinician. The pressure to prescribe medication rather than tackle underlying lifestyle problems is recognised but is almost impossible to resist in today's NHS.
Despite overwhelming evidence that lifestyle medicine is the only real answer to western society's chronic disease burden, I think the NHS has been slow to implement it - largely because to do so would require a significant amount of investment in time and resource.
I have always been struck by the value of investing time in a patient. By understanding an individual's background, likes and dislikes, habits and foibles, a doctor is in a much better position to gain the trust of the person they are trying to help. A sound clinical knowledge is of course essential but without the ability to gain trust, communicate and motivate, a diagnosis and treatment plan is much less likely to make a difference. Little wonder then that a 10 minute consultation often results in an unsatisfactory outcome for physician and patient alike. Squeezing in some lifestyle advice about losing weight or reducing stress into a 2 minute discussion about treatment always felt inadequate and left with me with the feeling that I should be doing more to help.
I made the decision in 2018 not to accept the status quo any more and to change my career direction. I studied Lifestyle Medicine and attended the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference in the USA. I successfully completed the Diploma of the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine (Dip IBLM) shortly after, becoming one of a small number of doctors to do so worldwide. As a member of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine I have joined a group of like minded medics who are trail blazing an innovative but common sense approach to healthcare in the UK and worldwide.
I can honestly say that joining the lifestyle medicine movement has rejuvenated me as a person and a doctor. I have recognised and addressed many of my own lifestyle habits and felt much happier and healthier as a result. I feel optimistic about the future of medicine and I am raring to pass on my knowledge and enthusiasm to inspire you to reap the benefits!
I am by no means perfect (as my wife and children will enthusiastically confirm) but I have made big lifestyle changes that have made me feel so much healthier. More importantly I am continuing to implement these changes because they are all realistic and achievable.
I am not judgemental or pious. I understand how nervous some people are about discussing their health and lifestyle. Whatever your issues you are welcome to have a free assessment to see if we can help.