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Faisal Sattar: My Working Life

Published on: 15 Jun 2023

Faisal Sattar: My Working Life


What did you want to be when you were at school/growing up? 

I was drawn to the idea of becoming a doctor because of my love for science and my desire to help others. This made the decision to pursue medicine a natural one for me, and having a sister who was a medical student at the time meant I knew exactly what I was getting into. 


What 3 factors make you skip into work? 

  1. Flexibility – being a GP means there are many roles available which allows for more flexibility – you can choose to live where you work. 

  2. Patient contact – as I’m a people person this is something I enjoy.

  3. Variety – working as both a private and NHS GP, and a medical director means that I’m involved in so many different things which keeps me on my toes. For instance with Medical Laboratories, I’ve been able to be involved with setting up a lab which is something I’ve never done before. There are so many other roles you can be involved in as a GP.


What are the main 3 factors that make you frustrated at work?  

  1. Admin – I dislike this side of the role and it doesn’t seem to stop. But if you don't do it, nobody else will. 

  2. Time limits – The short NHS appointment times are tough as you only have 10 minutes to help a patient which makes it difficult to explore their concerns. 

  3. Backlogs – they put added pressure on general practice. The patient journey is something that could be hugely improved in the NHS. This is less of a problem in my other roles.

Would you recommend your career to a young person and why? 

100%, it is extremely interesting and fulfilling, you have the opportunity to help people whilst constantly learning on the go.


What has been your biggest career disappointment or challenge and why, and how did you overcome it? 

As a partner, I constantly look for ways to improve services within general practice or move services out of hospitals to improve patient care, but it's not without its significant hurdles. However, I’ve found that in my medical director role I’ve been able to push past some of these innovation barriers faced in the NHS.


What was your best career move? 

Working with Medical Logistics – in my role as medical director I can make a difference to the patient journey through innovation. For instance, we provide a mobile phlebotomy service so patients can have their blood taken at home. Patients absolutely love the convenience. Also working in private general practice, where appointments are longer and so you have more time to spend with patients.


Can you describe your work/what you do in 1 sentence? 

It’s a bit like being a detective, you meet people, figure out what's going on and try to solve and explain the problem/s.


What qualities do you think you need to do your job well? 

You need a lot of patience, empathy, determination and will-power


What 3 words would your colleagues use to describe you? 

Perseverant, optimistic and affable. 


What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a patient or work colleague?  

Don’t take things home with you. It’s really difficult to do, and it isn’t easy to take on board, but creating that work-life balance is essential to enjoy both work and home life. 


If you could go back in time and give one piece of career advice to your younger self, what would it be?  

Embrace lifelong learning. As junior doctors, it's easy to feel like you know everything, but as you gain more experience, you realise how much more there is to learn. Medicine is not straightforward; there are always new developments, new technologies, and new approaches. You learn something new daily.


What do you do to relax/de-stress? 

I’ve got five children so I’m always busy, but I like going out with friends, spending time with family and de-stressing by playing sports. I also love travelling and I’m fortunate the flexibility of my work is brilliant in that it allows me to do that. 


Is the thought of retirement a dream or a nightmare – and why? 

I haven’t figured that out yet! I genuinely enjoy my work and like keeping busy,but it would be nice to have more time to travel and to spend with my family. 


If you could be invisible for a day what would you do? 

I would observe other GPs and learn from how they handle difficult situations with patients. There is always something to learn from others. 


If you were given £1m what would you spend it on? 

My staff as they work really hard, and some patients can be really demanding. So, anything to help them out would be great. 


What do you usually wear to work? 

I'm always a shirt and trousers type person. Professional enough, but not so formal it creates a barrier with patients.


What single change would you like to see made to the NHS? 

It needs investment in staff, training and various technologies to increase efficiencies and reduce costs in the long term. Everything is currently being run on a skeleton service and it is very reactive rather than preventative. Investments in technology and improving the patient journey will be crucial in terms of avoiding the collapse of our healthcare system. 


Faisal Sattar is a GP partner in Harlow, Essex and the medical director at Medical Laboratories, which provides medical diagnostic and screening services. In addition, he also runs his own private GP clinic.

After graduating from Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital Medical School, London in 2000, he spent six years in hospital medicine, working in paediatrics and completing his postgraduate training (Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health [MRCPCH]).

He worked as a paediatric cardiology registrar at Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Royal Brompton Hospital and Evelina London Children's Hospital. He subsequently trained as a GP and completed his postgraduate training (Membership Royal College of General Practice [MRCGP]) in 2009.

He also completed a Diploma in Adult Cardiology and currently is accredited as a GP with a special interest in cardiology and echocardiography. He was appointed as a partner at Lister Medical Centre in Harlow in 2010 and works there three days a week.

He joined Medical Laboratories in January 2020 as medical director and established Avicenna Health, a private GP service, with three other doctors in 2016.