TV doctor Amir Khan has recalled his most embarrassing incidents when encountering patients outside of the surgery – including one who thrust her ‘sore boobs’ in his face at the supermarket and another who dropped his trousers at the local garden centre.
The Bradford-born GP, who has spent nearly a decade working at the same practice in West Yorkshire after a year in the Wirral, has published a new memoir about his experiences in the medical profession.
In the book, entitled The Doctor Will See You Now: The Highs and Lows of My Life as an NHS GP, he admitted to feeling like a ‘glorified secretary’ when dealing with middle class patients who simply required a referral for private healthcare.
Dr Khan also likens the profession’s hierarchy to the film Mean Girls, claiming surgeons tend to ‘look down’ on general practitioners.
The GP, who regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and ITV’s This Morning, said his cousin Arif does heart transplants and has received six marriage proposals – while he’s only ever had one.
He told The Times: ‘In terms of who is considered coolest, the medical profession can be a bit like the film Mean Girls.
‘The surgeons – like my cousin Arif, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon – look down on us GPs because they think we treat colds and sniffles. But that’s not the case at all. We often see the beginnings of very serious conditions.’
Dr Khan added that he enjoys a deeper connection with his patients because he’s based in the community, and told how the book is a ‘love letter’ to the job – which is getting ‘tougher and tougher’ – and the people he deals with.
At the weekends Dr Khan said he enjoys gardening because it helps him relax – but he longer feels able to go to his local garden centre after an unfortunate incident involving a patient which saw the owner threaten to call the police.
He describes in the book how, while he was browsing bedding plants, a man approached him and dropped his trousers, demanding he took a look at a rash on his groin.
Dr Khan told The Times he’s also had a woman thrust her painful breasts in his face while food shopping and ‘the odd bum cheek as well’.
‘As a GP you are public property to an extent,’ he admitted.
While working in an affluent area of Merseyside, Dr Khan said he often found himself penning referral letters for patients’ private healthcare, meaning he sometimes felt like a ‘glorified secretary’.
He added that none of his Bradford patients have ever gone private, meaning he’s more involved in their care.
The book is full of amusing anecdotes, from over-eager medical students administering CPR to an elderly patient who had fainted, causing her false teeth to fly out, to an awkward exchange with his practice’s nurse on his first day.
While the pair conducted a vaginal examination, he recalled nurse Alison’s first words to him were: ‘I can see you’re circumcised through your trousers,’ – a tale he’s dreading his mother reading.
Dr Khan’s book also touches on the current coronavirus crisis, and the sense of ‘shame and embarrassment’ he’s felt over the high infection rate in his area.
Public Health England figures earlier this month showed a neighbourhood near a university in Bradford was the worst-hit part of England in the week that ended July 26.
Dr Khan said there are complex reasons for the area being hard hit by the virus, such as the large number of multigenerational households occupied by key workers.
He added that most of the Asian communities in the area are very worried about the virus.