Before becoming the Member of Parliament for Bosworth in 2019, I worked first as a doctor in hospitals, and then as a GP across the Midlands. I believe there are a lot of similarities between a good local MP and a good GP – you have to communicate clearly and effectively, you have to be able to deal with complex information and make decisions, and you have to problem solve. Above all, however, you have to care about the people you look after, and work hard to earn their respect.
Having grown up in rural Dorset, where my father worked as a GP and my mother worked first as a nurse, and then a school nurse, discussions around medicine were a common theme in our house from an early age! My father was determined to care for the community he cared so much about, and I saw how valued this hard work was from a very early age.
Through their work, both of my parents were dedicated to wanting to help people, and given that myself and my two brothers have all gone into medicine in our careers, I guess that had an impression on us all!
When I ran to become the candidate for the Bosworth seat in 2019, the area was already well familiar to me, and the opportunity to come back to the Midlands was something my wife Charlie and I both relished. Bosworth and its beautiful countryside often reminds me of where I grew up, and I’m proud to call it home.
Charlie and I met at Medical School, and in May 2019, we were lucky enough to get married in a beautiful spot near Kidderminster. Charlie grew up in the Midlands and is also a GP herself. Since we moved to Bosworth, we have had two additions in the form of our whippets, Ada and Roux, and we are blessed with having so many lovely places locally to take them on walks.
Having started my medical training at The University of Birmingham in 2002, I spent over 15 years in the Midlands since then. Completing my medical degree in 2007 gave me the opportunity to work in hospitals in Solihull, Sutton Coldfield and Heartlands, and after completing my 2 years training as a junior doctor, I went back to Birmingham University to teach anatomy to first and second year medical and dental students.
Training as a junior doctor truly tests both your perseverance, and your commitment to the job, and it was without doubt one of the most difficult, yet proudest, periods of my career. You know you have the medical knowledge and training to treat patients, but nothing can quite prepare you for the moment you are placed in charge of an entire ward. Despite the difficulties, (and, at times, the sheer terror!), the profound difference you can make to a patient’s life is a real privilege.
In 2010, I decided to move from working in hospitals to begin training as a GP. Although I’m not sure he would necessarily say so, I think my father was very pleased that one of his boys followed in his footsteps and became a GP!
Away from medicine, I have always been involved in the community in various ways, serving as a Rotarian and a Primary School governor. As a member of a debating society and speaking club, I also developed the skills to present and argue effectively, and in 2017, I became British Public Speaking Champion.
Since becoming an MP, as well as the wide range of work for the people of Bosworth, I’ve also developed a number of policy interests, including body image, animal welfare, and the NHS.
In my clinics, I frequently saw how concerns about body image could lead to health conditions like anxiety and depression, and in the worst cases it can lead to serious eating disorders. 1.25 million people in the UK are estimated to have an eating disorder, and lockdowns have undoubtedly caused the problem to grow.
Training and working in the NHS has shown me not only the very best of our health system, but also ways we can improve and innovate for the future. Being elected onto the Health and Social Care Committee was a real privilege, especially given its prominence during the pandemic, allowing me to explore policy areas in depth with fellow members, like workforce burnout and clearing the healthcare backlog caused by Covid.
Having grown up around animals and our family pets, and looking at how treasured animals are to the people of Bosworth, campaigning on animal welfare was also a natural area of interest. Since then, I’m delighted that the Government have announced a whole host of changes to the law, including tougher sentences for puppy smuggling, microchipping for cats, and a ban on importing ivory.
In December 2020, I was honoured to have been awarded Overall Newcomer Award at the Patchwork Foundation’s MP of the Year Awards, and serving the people of Bosworth since 2019 has undoubtedly been the absolute privilege of a lifetime.
Since then, a personal highlight for me was my successful campaign to get the 15-minute wait post-vaccine dropped, to help save thousands of hours of NHS time, and get as many people as possible boosted in the run up to winter. Using my background in medicine, I believed it was a practical step that could make a real difference, so I asked the Government throughout the Autumn of 2021 if the data could be reviewed.
In December 2021, the Chief Medical Officers and Deputy Chief Medical Officers concluded that the 15-minute wait reduces throughput by 23%, leads to over 500,000 people not getting a vaccine in the initial period who would otherwise have done so, and that retaining it was actually more of a risk than dropping it. It was fantastic to be able to incorporate medical knowledge into practical and tangible policy outcomes, and it was a real highlight for me personally.