Interview: Dr Amir Khan From Channel 5’s GPs Behind Closed Doors
I am a HUGE fan of the show “GPs Behind Closed Doors” on Channel 5, and I’ve followed it for a few years now. I find it absolutely fascinating to see how all the hard working GPs on the show help the patients in their care and to see the myriad of different people on the show whose medical needs differ so widely.
I can honestly say I have never enjoyed a series as much as the current one that is on Channel 5 every Wednesday night at 8.00pm. The reason I am enjoying it so much is because of the enigmatic and charismatic Dr Amir Khan.
If there was ever such a person who was born to be a doctor, Dr Amir Khan is it. He is charming, extremely polite, very honest (if he thinks you haven’t helped yourself to try and get better in any way, for example by not giving up smoking or losing weight, he will tell you – but tell you in a nice way) and most importantly – he LISTENS and he CARES. I would have him as my GP like a shot if I could!
I started following him on Twitter and Instagram a few weeks ago, and as busy as he is being a GP and recently appearing on on “BBC Breakfast” on a few occasions I was amazed when he replied to some of my tweets about him on the show. After a bit of encouragement from one of my work colleagues I took the plunge and sent him a DM on Twitter asking him if he would kindly give an interview for “Cyber Geek Girl”. I imagined he would be too busy, so I was surprised and honoured when he replied and said he would love to take part!
Thank you Dr Amir Khan for agreeing to be interviewed for “Cyber Geek Girl”! Over to you!
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
My name is Dr Amir Khan, I was born and grew up in Bradford.
I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to Bradford Grammar School, which was great as there is no way we could have afforded it and I managed to get in and study medicine and the University of Liverpool.
I graduated with an honour’s degree in 2004, and qualified as a GP in 2009. I have done diplomas in Child Health, Women’s Health and Post Graduate Education. I now work as a GP at The Ridge Medical Practice in Bradford.
Why did you choose to become a GP?
I chose to become a GP as I like to talk and I’m a bit nosy! I like to get to really get to know people and I studied medicine to help people, so being a GP allows me to do both.
What things do you love the most about being a GP?
I have to say the patients, they always keep me on my toes and there is a never a dull moment. Sometimes it is hard and can be emotionally draining, but if you accept that is part of the job and focus on the positives, it’s unlikely you will burn out.
A close second are my colleagues, well they are more like friends. They keep me going.
And the things you don’t love about being a GP/challenges in the job?
There is a lot of admin and paperwork to do! We also have to deal with a lot of social issues that aren’t necessarily medical issues, but due to cuts and reductions in social care, these problems often end up on our doorstep.
What has been your standout moment of being on “GP’s Behind Closed Doors?”
GPBCDs was a great experience, the team that put it together were really inclusive.
There are some great patients and stories on there, but you always remember the funny ones: the episode where the guy fainted whilst I was performing minor surgery and I ended up sharing my lunch with him was fun.
There are some bloopers too which, thankfully won’t see the light of day but are hilarious. I fall over a lot and there is a whole montage of me just falling over. It because I am always chatting or eating rather than looking where I am going!
You have been catapulted into the spotlight as a result of appearing on “GP’s Closed Doors”. Do you find that you get recognised more since appearing on the show?
I only ever get recognised at the worst possible moments! It’s usually after I have been for a run, am looking rough and then I quickly nip to the supermarket to get some milk – that’s ALWAYS when I get recognised. It is never when I have made an effort!
Do you have any funny stories to share about being on “GP’s Behind Closed Doors”?
Ah loads. My best mate is one of the Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Debbie Harris. We always have a laugh and we keep getting told the stuff we do or talk about is too naughty to be on the telly.
But there was this one time, where I dressed up as a Mexican wrestler (for teaching purposes) and hid behind in the curtain in Dr David Tatham’s room. When he came in, I jumped out and scared him. It was hilarious! They caught that on camera and think it will be on the very last episode of the series!
What’s the most fun element of appearing on “GP’s Behind Closed Doors” for you?
It was just a really enjoyable experience; the whole team were really nice. Obviously we had never done anything like this before, but it was good to show the city of Bradford in a positive way.
You have recently qualified as a Professor, do you have any plans to further expand your knowledge and career?
I am always learning, I don’t think you ever stop as a Doctor. I have a real passion for trying to improve the numbers of people participating in national cancer screening programmes and most of my work is around that – I imagine I will be doing that until the day I die! So book in for your smears, breast screening and bowel screening programmes everyone, and give me a day off!
Your best friend is Debbie (Nurse Practitioner at the practice) – what are your favourite things to do together when you have some leisure time?
We hang out all the time. We are super boring- our favourite thing to do is frequent tea/cake shops and gossip for hours! We also go on holiday together, we have been to Australia, Vienna, Italy and Croatia – we have such a laugh!
When you were a little boy what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to be a Doctor?
Not really, I was from a working-class background where nobody had gone to university and there were no doctors in the family. It wasn’t until I was older and was a carer in a Youth Disabled Unit that I realised that helping people felt good and it was something I was good at. That prompted me to apply for medicine.
You clearly like to bake and cook? What are your favourites dishes?
Oh god, where do I start?! Every curry my mum makes? Though I am trying to cut down on meat now, she is not happy! She is a feeder.
I love baking, I make a mean chocolate orange cake. If you’re ever in Leeds I will make it for you!
You are very active on Twitter and Instagram. Do you think that social media has a place in raising awareness of health and wellbeing?
Funnily enough, I had never been on Twitter or Instagram prior to GPBCDs, so it was a new experience for me. But I soon realised it could be used to promote healthy lifestyle advice and raise awareness of various health issues, so as much as people complain about it, and it does have its downsides, it can also be used as a force of good. I always try to stay positive on it!
As a GPwSI in diabetes, what advice would you give to people to help them ward off the onset of the disease?
It is preventable. You don’t need a special diet or exercise regime, you just need a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Honestly, it’s not just diabetes you will prevent, it will be cancers, heart disease and a whole host of other illnesses.
Without breaking any patient confidentiality, do you have any stand out stories or patients who have made a difference to you as a GP?
I got to know a family whilst looking after their father with terminal cancer, it was a really sad and drawn out experience. Sadly a year later, a child died in the same family. I saw them every day for weeks, supporting them and just being there for them. They wrote me a lovely letter which still gets me very emotional today, but it just re-affirmed why I became a GP in the first place.
What health advice would you give to people generally to help them live a long and happy life, apart from the obvious of don’t smoke/drink, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet?
Don’t give up and it’s never too late to start! Keep positive, there is a lot of negativity in the world today, it’s a funny old time to be alive. But we are the people, if we stay positive and look after each other and our beautiful planet, everything will be fine.
Thank you Dr Amir Khan for giving this interview for Cyber Geek Girl! I’d like to close it by sharing this video clip of Dr Khan from the Channel 5 series “GPs Behind Closed Doors”, which shows just how caring, kind and compassionate he is to his patients. I believe that this clip should be used as training for all GPs: