I completed medical training (MBChB) in Glasgow, 1998. Initially, I trained as a GP and qualified in 2003. During GP training, I kept up with a love of Genitourinary Medicine (Sexual Health) through continued work for the Steve Retson Project, a specialist sexual health service for gay and bisexual men or men who have sex with men based at the Sandyford Initiative, Glasgow. This was my first encounter with a specialist service set up for, and by gay men, my first experience of working with “the community” – and I loved it! Little did I know that this would prove to be a cornerstone of my future work.
I worked briefly in Leeds as a GP 2003-4, but the calling was always back to a career in Sexual Health/HIV. I made a decision to leave General Practice in 2004, and despite incredulity from my GP colleagues, never, ever, regretted my decision! I worked as a Staff Grade at the Leeds GUM Clinic (Sunnybank Wing, Leeds General Infirmary) for 9 months before deciding to go back and retrain in General Medicine. This would enable me to enter Specialty Training in Genitourinary Medicine. The calling was strong!!
During my time as a registrar I helped put National HIV Testing Week on the map in Leeds; Leeds GUM working alongside Yorkshire MESMAC and Leeds Skyline continue to be an example of the great things that can be achieved when a sexual health clinic works alongside the community sector. Also working closely with Yorkshire MESMAC, I was instrumental in the set up of Armley Men’s Sexual Health Clinic, Leeds first sexual health clinic in a sauna for men who have sex with men. I also appeared on the BBC3 documentary “Unsafe Sex and the City”. It was during this time that I began to develop a particular interest in HIV prevention and collaborative working with the community.
I gained my CCT in 2014 and worked as a Locum Consultant in East London both at the Royal London and Homerton Hospitals. During my time at the Royal London, I was lucky to work on the PROUD study, and my life as a PrEP advocate began. At Homerton, I was responsible for the HIV Antenatal clinic, again, very close to my heart and was sad to leave this behind.
In September 2015, I took up a substantive Consultant post at Mortimer Market Centre, Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, where I am lead for GUM. Frustrated by the lack of PrEP implementation in the NHS, and observing that community activists such as Greg Owen and Will Nutland were supporting people to access PrEP online I gained agreement from my Trust and support from clinic staff to provide HIV and STI testing, plus renal monitoring for those accessing PrEP in this way. I also inputted to, and pushed for the provision of the national PrEP Guide, produced by iBase.