Prit Chahal

Raising the quality of patient care

Assistant Professor, School of Medicine and GP trainer

How would you explain your research?

A general practitioner in the UK, in my hometown of Nottingham, I am also involved in the training of the GPs of tomorrow. This Exchange project investigates the primary health care approaches in both China and the UK; two countries with very different cultures and medical systems. I am particularly interested in the way both nations train GPs. The aim is to capture and share training best practice to help raise the quality of patient care in China and the UK. There are, after all, things both countries could learn from each other. In-depth interviews with patients, GP educators and general practice trainees have all informed our evaluations. The project is a collaboration between the University of Nottingham, the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Health Education England which is responsible for training doctors in the UK - and Ningbo First Hospital, which is keen to deliver better GP training. 

Primary care development is a priority in a lot of other countries too and the model we are exploring could help to educate and train highly-skilled GPs anywhere in the world.

What global impact do you think your research will have?

General Practitioners, particularly in China, have low status within the medical community. They are paid at a lower rate, for instance, which impacts their value in the eyes of patients and other medics.

Consequently only 15 per cent of doctors in China are general practitioners compared to Britain where around half of newly-qualified doctors go on to become GPs. However, the Chinese government is now seriously investing in primary care with excellent GP training programmes, inspired by the UK's National Health Service model. I'm really encouraged by that.

Primary care development is a priority in a lot of other countries too and the model we are exploring could help to educate and train highly-skilled GPs anywhere in the world.

Kenya, for instance, is a country which I visited last year and at the time they only had eight GPs. The Kenyan government is very keen to build its GP numbers, particularly in a bid to improve primary healthcare access for marginalised, rural communities such as the Masai. The best practice model we identify could be of great assistant to their efforts.

What inspired you to become a doctor?

I wanted to be a philosopher initially, but I deviated to become a doctor because I was immersed in the tail end of the hippie culture of the late 70s, building a betterworld, listening to David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. It encouraged me to want to make a difference in society and choose a career in medicine

What has been your career highlight to date?

One of the reasons I'm here today is because as an inner-city GP in Nottingham, whenever there was a problem in the world whether it's was Iraq, Afghanistan or in Sudan, relocated refugees would come to my surgery. I became aware first-hand how interconnected we are. What happens in one country ultimately impacts the rest of the world. That's where my interest in global health really developed, particularly in encouraging young doctors to engage in global health projects such as this.

Have you got any next steps for the project?

The Ebola virus crisis devastated medical staffing levels in Sierra Leone. I was told, at one stage the country had just 25 locally trained doctors. My sister- and brother-in-law are both GPs in Sierra Leone and in fact my brother -in- law is a graduate of University of Nottingham Medical School. I would love to be involved in helping rebuild their medical trainee numbers. I think, together with my wife and son, I will join them; the project I work on could be useful in this part of the world.