Of all the GPs at Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s previous surgery, he was the only one to eschew the Tannoy system when calling his patients in. Rather charmingly, he walked to the waiting room to fetch each one.
“It’s more personal,” he says. “It’s really nice to go and shake someone’s hand, look them in the eye and watch them walk to your consultation room. The dynamic starts there. It also got me out of my chair 45 times a day. It’s just a small thing that I think the patients really liked and had a lot of benefits for me.”
This “small thing” he’s recounting across the kitchen island at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, goes to the heart of Dr Chatterjee’s philosophy. As he points out, it enabled him to build extra movement into his daily routine without much trouble. But perhaps more importantly, it signalled a resetting of the doctor-patient relationship; making a connection that enabled the physician to see the bigger picture.
The handsome 40-year-old father-of-two, star of BBC One’sDoctor in the House, is at the forefront of a new generation of social-media-savvy medics who are all about making connections – sharing everything from the quick vegetable coconut curry he whipped up for his kids with his 12.5k followers on Instagram, to his Tedx talk on how he helps patients reverse type-2 diabetes without medication, which has amassed more than 850,000 views on YouTube.
And he has a very big picture in mind: overhauling the way the NHS operates. “Our whole model is about diagnosing and giving a pill,” he tells me. “That’s what we’re very good at and that model of care works very well for acute problems.”
Many chronic conditions, often viewed as inevitable evils of modern life, could be cured with a series of straightforward tweaks to our daily routines
It is clearly working less well for tackling chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and depression, which have reached genuine crisis levels in Britain, despite our ever increasing intake of pharmaceutical products. A record number of antidepressants were dispensed last year, according to NHS Digital, while spending on diabetes drugs reached £984.2m as the number of Britons diagnosed with the condition has more than doubled to nearly 3.5 million in the past 20 years.
What truly empassions Dr Chatterjee – so much so that he regularly springs from his chair to emphasise his point – is that most of these conditions, often viewed as inevitable evils of…