Reflecting on my varied heritage for South Asian Heritage Month

I was born in Edinburgh, brought up in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania and completed my school and medical education in London, Oxford, and Nottingham. I now live in Cardiff and have been a GP here for 26 years. I don’t know what that makes me, sometimes I feel African (and have worked with the large Somali community in Cardiff). Sometimes I feel Indian (and have worked with the Bangladeshi and other South Asian Communities in Nottingham, Manchester, and Cardiff). Sometimes I feel Welsh. It’s a great mixture.

Full potential of general practice

I only realised the full potential of general practice after meeting a very special GP while I was a GP Trainee. As he retired, I took his place in the practice, and kept in touch with him for many years until his recent death. He was a founder member of the RCGP and used to go to London regularly as part of one of the original Balint groups. His approach to his patients was one of gentleness, kindness and extensive experience and knowledge, and they loved him for it. I hope I portray at least a modicum of that in my practice today.

How the RCGP has supported me

The RCGP has supported me and encouraged me in my career, in ways I had never expected. From an RCGP/MIA Research Training Scholarship back in 1991, to the development of an interest in medical education and assessment as an MRCGP Examiner. I owe the College a lot and have made many professional and personal friends from all over the UK along the way.

What I do now

I now work as an NHS GP in the Welsh Valleys for two sessions a week, and the rest of the time I was head of Graduate Entry Medicine at Swansea and I am now on secondment as Chair of RCGP Council.

As I complete my eighth month as Chair of RCGP Council, I have a few key thoughts; I am truly enjoying this role, representing my profession to anyone who cares to listen (but of course to the great and the good). I've also really appreciated the support I've received from college members, many of whom I haven't met before. I am very aware of the diversity of the membership, and that is also one of my great pleasures, to be able to show that while I can't represent the lived experiences of everyone. I have lived a professional and personal life that chimes with many members. I'm so proud of my varied heritage and try my best to live up to it all. That includes a real appreciation of, and sense of belonging to South Asian Heritage Month, a cultural and racial badge I wear with pride.

About the writers

Headshot from the shoulders up of Professor Kamila Hawthorne, smiling and head is slightly tilted to the right.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne

Chair of RCGP council

Professor Kamila Hawthorne MBE, is Chair of RCGP Council. Her research and clinical working interests have been in health inequalities and access to health services (her MD was based on working with BAME groups with Type 2 diabetes in Manchester). With wide experience of running community projects in diabetes and heart disease, she has been named ‘GP of the Year’ twice for her work with BAME communities and with patients and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2017 for services to general practice.