As a prison doctor, Amanda Brown knows compassion is the best medicine

A mid-life career leap into the prison service opened this GP’s eyes and heart

For Dr Amanda Brown, a village GP in Buckinghamshire, the idea of working in a prison was so off the radar that when the offer came, her first reaction was surprise that such jobs existed. “It had never occurred to me that doctors even worked in prisons,” she says. “How stupid was I? But I thought it sounded fun. Interesting. Different.” The offer arrived at one of the lowest points in her life: she was crying in her consulting room when she took the call that would turn out to be the solution, or in her words, “a blessing”.

It was March 2004, Brown was 49 and had angrily and impulsively resigned over government plans for new GP contracts, which would reward surgeries for meeting certain targets, such as checking cholesterol or completing mental health questionnaires during consultations. Although Brown had started the practice from scratch 20 years previously – and her husband, a property developer, had actually built the surgery – her partners had informed her they would “resent” her if their income fell because she refused to tick boxes and meet targets.

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