GP Spotlight: Dr Krishan Aggarwal
By Dr Claire Davies, Lead GP Columnist
Krishan Aggarwal is the new Network Locum (now Lantum) GP Ambassador. Claire Davies catches up with him about GP life and medical politics in Central London.
Krishan Aggarwal arrives for the interview looking freshly pressed in a suit despite a morning’s work in primary care behind him and a freezing March wind.
Inspired to be a GP as a house officer (where he recalls wishing for more variety than hospital medicine), he now has a portfolio of roles. Counting through them on his fingers, we never quite get through the list which includes being CCG clinical lead, a CQC inspector and an interest in medical politics.
As an Ambassador, his role is to promote Network Locum (now Lantum), to organise events and seek feedback from people about their experience of using the Network Locum (now Lantum) platform.
Despite how busy he is and the pressures for everyone in practice today, he is still passionate about primary care.
“Primary care could be amazing. No – it IS amazing (laughs)….All the GPs in the country, on any normal working day, will see a million patients. Whereas in a year, all the A&Es will see about 24 million. In 25 working days, GPs will see more patients than the whole of A&E in a year…It just shows how efficient primary care is and what value for money it is.”
So how does his belief in general practice tie in with his interest in medical politics? He currently sits on his local LMC and the professional fees committee of the BMA and is hoping to get on the GPC.
“I just want a fairer system for all GPs, whether they’re a principal, a salaried or a locum. I think that as GPs, we all need to stick together rather than allow the government and media to divide and conquer us.”
A large body of GPs feel that primary care is unfairly under attack from the media these days. Accusations of over-inflated salaries, ‘trial by media’ following patient complaints and unreasonable blame for the A+E crisis when GP out of hours services are always open when the GP surgery is closed – what can we make of the reasons behind this? Theories abound that this is a government plot to dismantle and privatise primary care or just generally disempower GPs.
He is unsure of the exact reason but shares the sense of injustice of many people in the profession.
“I really feel that successive governments don’t recognise the value and potential in primary care. Similarly in the media there is a constant attack on primary but you don’t see it in any other field of medicine. You don’t see it for anaesthetists or orthopaedic consultants. You only see GPs. I think that the government and media need to get their priorities right.”
Throughout the interview, he comes across as someone organised and empowered enough to make changes, not only through medical politics but in all aspects of his life. Paying for almost everything by card (a way of promoting his belief in financial transparency), he arranged for accountants to tender for business with a group of GPs in order to get a better deal, updates his pension statement annually and designed a house extension when he was sixteen.
Given that many people feel disempowered at times, what can people do?
“I think that the one thing that we have as doctors is we can pull together and have solidarity …. We all went to medical school together. If we all got together, we’d be a formidable force. I think any government would struggle to challenge us.”
One thing he can also offer as an Ambassador is his experience of locuming. Having being a locum for the last 8 years (focussing on a handful of practices in order to enjoy some continuity with patients), he feels strongly about protecting yourself.
“Make sure that you’re safe. It’s not worth taking any risks or doing things outside of your comfort zone. Because you’re moving from practice to practice, you’re more at risk than other GPs. So record keeping is absolutely vital…I think the use of chaperones is really important to locums. Even if you’re not sure, always offer and document it….If you have concerns don’t feel that you’re alone. There are many ways to raise them either inside or outside the practice.”
Current demand levels within the profession have meant that GP burn-out has become such a commonly used word these days. How does he maintain this level of energy and enthusiasm? He has switched from Kung Fu to regular yoga asana (“It makes you really happy and content) but he is also maintained by his powerful belief in primary care.
“There aren’t many careers where you get to help someone, not only because you want to but because there’s no ulterior motive. The only thing I get out of it is satisfaction. One of my friends said today, “I get paid to do this job and it’s great.” And it’s true. I really enjoy being a GP.”
With the profession in crisis, it was uplifting to spend a few hours talking to someone so positive and immersed in the role. While he acknowledges there are problems in primary care, he comes across as someone who engages with things to instigate change and is able to innovate for himself. Exactly the right person right now to be an Ambassador for GPs.
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