Sunday, August 20, 2017

It's NOT ok

"If you are anonymous, you don't exist to me…"…that line stuck in my head a fair bit after my meet with Helen - the RCGP Chair. Amongst many topics, we had touched upon social media, bullying…and I liked her style of dealing with it. I have seen some of the vitriol she and Jane Dacre, not to mention Bruce Keogh have sometimes copped- and they have rode that wave admirably. I have been comparatively lucky- though a few messages from evangelists within the low carb lobby have stuck in my mind.

"What does a Paki know about low carbs- go and feed your kids those shite"- ah yes…lovely indeed. Apart from the factual correction, I am a proud Indian to begin with, there probably is some fact in it- heck, without rice, curry, roti…what is the point of being an Indian to be honest.... But why that extends to abuse or to my kids- I am yet to understand. Anonymous account- yet another brave soul.
So far in life- and I am an unashamed fan of Twitter, warts and all- I have ignored all that- and Helens' words stuck in my head. That sort of attitude hurts the whole community who support low carbs- not me individually. Is it ok to brush it off? Ok to see a racist slur pass by? I see a lot of NHS chat about how they are correcting racism- you do sometimes have to smile wryly at that. Let me know when one - actually any one of the top NHS bodies have a non-white in place- heck even a few Chief Execs would be a start…but anyway, I digress.

What has made me think has been seeing some of the responses to Nish Maneks blog on Pulse. Applaud her for knowing what she would face up to- and yet publishing her views- and on cue, it happened. Its a democracy and differing views are welcome- why that has to descend to snide comments about individual- I am yet to understand- especially when you haven't even met the person. To a point, I still can get it- the work pressure, a bad day, the easy accessibility of a keyboard does sometimes allow that to happen- but what mystifies me is many of these brave souls not having a name. To me, thats no different to any troll who happens to have a pop, any faceless racist or nameless sexist boor.

So its probably time to say, its enough. Its not cool or ok to be personal- and as a collective, we must take a stand against such behaviour. Opinions are ok-as it should be- it can be strong, it can even be harsh- but not rudeness, not personal attacks- and if health care professionals are ignoring GMC guidance and taking potshots hiding behind pseudonyms, then lets call them out. Enough is enough- and to take Helens sentence forward? "If you are anonymous, then you shouldn't exist to anyone". If you do want to, then accept that society has some rules, some decorum and you should not, sorry can not say or do things which you would not be able to say face to face or publicly. You may say -is that an over reaction? I would say No. Look at where we have taken the world to- by allowing the slow creep of "free speech" being demonised to eulogising Hitler and General Lee.

We -as health care professionals may not be able to change the world- but at least, for once, hopefully, we should be able to stand together and say "Its not ok". Small things escalate to things far beyond our comprehension.
I do not think I have heard a more poignant quote than that from the late Heather Heyer. It applies to all spheres of life- including the one we inhabit as health care professionals. RIP Heather x

Sunday, August 6, 2017


“The genius at the top doesn't make the team look good. A good team makes the person at the top look like a genius”….Simon Sinek

August 15 2008. Will always stay as a red letter day in my life. It was the pinnacle of what I had set out to achieve all those years back....a Consultant post in the NHS. In my chosen specialty. In a place I wanted to work. With a team I had wanted to join through my training years. The date itself had a degree of Freudian poignancy. After all, August 15th was Independence Day for India- from the British Raj. I still recall the first day, walking into the department with a smile on my face.

Fast track to the cusp of my 9 year anniversary...and that smile has stayed. I don't think I could have predicted even in my wildest dreams being where I am at this stage of my career. And what a swashbuckling roller-coaster of a ride it has been indeed. I have loved being part of the Portsmouth diabetes team, being part of Portsmouth hospitals- and frankly, I couldn't have hoped for a better job. Many highs along the way- well documented across social media or general print- but nothing, and I mean nothing, would have been possible without the legends I work with. Mike, Iain and Darryl were my Consultants once upon a time and there never has been a day in the 9 years where I have felt I wasn't among friends. I have always been my own man- but if there is anyone whose counsel I would listen to...then there they are. Over the course of time, the team has expanded to 5 with the additional of Eveleigh- and the dynamics of camaraderie has continued. So folks,  thank you for...well...pretty much anything.

There as ever is the counterbalance. People only see the successes...not the many many failures or hard days behind them- and there have been many. Low points have littered the nine years...and to anyone who works within the NHS, my tip? Surround yourself with support who will be there when you need them. My favourite example? A particular few days at work a few years colleagues knew what I was going through- a bottle of Jack Daniels - honey flavoured too- and an arm around the shoulder meant much more than a glib few words. I recall going for a job, not getting it and being hurt by it all- the text I got from one of my colleagues? I keep it till this day - just to read it again on days when the darkness descends.

I suspect 9 years has also brought a sort of self realisation. What is my strength is also my Achilles heel- but I have now grown comfortable with it. There is no need for anyone to be perfect- and if anyone says they are, then they are frankly lying. Glib judgements are easy to pass, especially when you using a keyboard- scratch a bit deeper, everyone has dark shades- that's human nature for you. The trick I suppose is to have folks around you who complement you- rather than yourself trying to be "whole". My strength lies in my passion, drive, ambition- and that can easily tip over. I can be brash, my ego is the size of a planet, my confidence brims over into territories of arrogance...I know all that- and I am now comfortable with it. It is who I am- that has brought success as much as failure- and frankly, it's the failures I remember most. They make you appreciate your success more. I have no problem in failing- it just gives you something to learn for the next endeavour. Other foibles have been a very black and white distinction about trust. Loyalty and friendship are huge things for me. I like criticism but open, honest and to to my face. If it's behind my back, for me, that relationship is done. I don't have the capacity to forget- that is my failing- I accept- but again, that's who I am- for right or wrong.

Nine years. Time flies- doesn't it? And I look back, mostly with pride. Regrets? In my specialty field, perhaps not much but maybe a tinge that perhaps I could have done more for my own trust beyond my specialty area. Due to a multitude of reasons, along with the inherent nature of management trusting conservative approach rather than the maverick one, it's never quite happened. Meeting the new top tier of the Trust, Mark Cubbon and John Knighton has been enlightening and refreshing too- the future will tell us what direction all this takes. This is a place where I trained, did my research and built my reputation- based on which I do my national work- it is my mother institution whose reputation I deeply care about.

Finally, to those who take the time to read my blogs. There will be some who find it self- aggrandising and a waste of time. To them I say- don't read is now my view of the world, if you don't like me, I don't have any issue with that. Nobody in history has been omnipopular- so I have no illusions about me needing to do so. To some or anyone who reads it out of interest, a few things to finish...
The job that we do is a blessing, a gift which not many have. It's one life and there are are not many jobs which gives you the chance to help so many others. Try to enjoy the ride, don't be afraid to fail and most importantly, never believe your own hype. Retain the ability to laugh at yourself and always have those special friends around you...who can bring you down to earth in the twinkle of an eye. It keeps you grounded, it keeps you sane. We are in the middle of trying times, but keep the focus, keep trying and if you ever need some tips when you feel nothing seems to be moving in the right direction....always happy to help. I may not have the answer but I can certainly try to make you smile.

(This is blog number 250- and dedicated to the whole diabetes team at Portsmouth- but especially to my partners-in-crime: Thor; Hulk; Cap and Natasha. Thank you x )