09 Mar A Q&A with The International Medical Centre
We heard about a new medical centre in Doha so we got in touch with the Co-Founder and General Manager, Tamara Hasan, to find out more.
1. What is The IM Centre?
The International Medical Centre is a private premium healthcare clinic that was set up for the local residents of Doha. We have two experienced British Family Medicine Consultants (Dr Brenda Strandvik and Dr Stacey Phillpots) and one experienced British Paediatrician and Neonatologist (Dr Renu Angwin). We aim to be a quality healthcare provider that you can trust with all of your family’s day to day medical needs. We offer general doctor appointments, health screenings, an in-house pharmacy and (coming soon) a vaccination clinic.
2. What made you decide to set it up?
This is actually our third healthcare clinic – we previously set up The International Physiotherapy Centre (one in Markhiya and one in Waab).
The original setting up of The International Physiotherapy Centre was a real passion project for us – too many people struggle to get quality rehabilitation care in Doha, and either fly abroad or live in pain. Having seen friends & family struggle, we decided to do something about it and the result was The International Physiotherapy Centre. The concept is simple – to try to provide the quality care & experience you would expect in the UK, US, Switzerland or Germany.
We started off with Physiotherapy, but have expanded quickly to also offer Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Medical Massage and Pilates to cater to demand.
Over time, it has become clear lots of our patients have also struggled to find quality day to day medical care in Doha – patients actually need a referral from a doctor to see a Physiotherapist or an Osteopath by law and we were shocked that so many of them found the whole experience here very challenging. As a result, we thought we should try and do the same again- for doctors this time!
3. What is your Ethos?
Our ethos has always been to provide a high-quality service for local residents, the same as they would expect in a local clinic in Europe, North America or Australia – in this case, delivered by highly trained & experienced British doctors.
We also want the experience to feel more private and personal – having a health issue can be an uncomfortable time, so it is important that patients are able to get supportive care as well as build a relationship with their doctor. This is something we are really focused on in a country where most patients tend to go to a hospital and maybe see a different doctor each time.
Our Family Medicine & Paediatric Consultants should be able to solve the vast majority of your problems without the need for you to go to A&E in a hospital. They can also get to know you, your family and your health history.
4. How is it different?
We are totally focused on quality of care, and this starts with our doctors. Our team is highly trained and each of our doctors has a minimum of 15 years’ experience.
We have been very selective in building our team, to ensure we maintain quality. We want to make sure that anyone who comes to any of our centres can be sure they will see a highly-qualified practitioner who is focused on taking very good care of them.
We are aiming to provide real consistency of care – all our doctors have a lot of experience, and we think this is what makes patients trust us. You can come to any one of our clinics and be assured to see a well-trained and experienced medical practitioner.
5. What is the GP concept?
In the UK, your General Practitioner (or GP) is a highly specialised and trusted local doctor working from a local community clinic. Whatever your health issue, you go to see your GP first. They are experts in dealing with all sorts of issues in patients of all ages, including infections, chronic health conditions, family planning, health checks, and most dermatological, gynaecological, ENT and other complaints. They can deal with the vast majority of cases directly. The highly specialised or the more serious cases who might require hospital treatment or referral are also usually seen initially by the GP and then referred on accordingly
We really see the value in this model. For patients, you get to see a regular doctor in a convenient local clinic, rather than going to the hospital and waiting around for hours to see a different doctor each time.
Our Family Medicine Consultants are more than general doctors. To achieve this level in the UK you need to have completed 6 years of medical school training and then after that there is another 3 years of specialty training in hospital posts and general practice posts. General Practice (also known as Family Medicine) is a speciality in itself, in which you are qualified to be the first port of call for all of your patients’ healthcare needs.
A GP in Qatar however is often a term used to describe a general doctor who has just qualified from medical school. Our Family Medicine Consultants are more specialised and more experienced.
6. Who works there?
We have two experienced British Family Medicine Consultants (Dr Brenda Strandvik and Dr Stacey Phillpots) and one experienced British Paediatrician and Neonatologist (Dr Renu Angwin).
We also have a full team of nurses supporting them in delivering quality care.
7. Tell us more about the Doctors
Dr Brenda Strandvik is a Family Medicine Consultant.
Dr Brenda qualified from Medical School at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and then completed her training in the UK. She has spent the last 15 years as a GP in the UK, working as a Partner in her clinic.
She is a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, and has Post-Graduate Diplomas in Child Health and Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
She treats patients with a wide range of medical complaints as well as providing health counselling. She has a particular interest in Child Health, Gynaecology and Chronic Disease Management.
Dr Stacey Phillpots is also a Family Medicine Consultant.
Dr Stacey went to medical school and qualified as a GP in the UK 29 years ago. Since then, she has gained significant experience working in clinics in both the UK and Australia.
She is a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Family Planning and Reproductive Health.
Stacey has also taken an active role in medical education, being involved in the teaching of medical students at Weill Cornell Medical College Qatar.
Dr Renu Angwin is a British Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist.
Dr Renu completed her medical degree and training in the UK, and has over 22 years of experience working in leading National Health Service Hospitals (both general hospitals and teaching hospitals). As well as wide experience in medical care for acutely or chronically ill children, she also has experience in paediatric surgery, paediatric intensive care and neonatal intensive care. Her special interest is in Neonatology – looking after premature & sick new-borns.
Renu is a Registered Member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and has a Masters Degree in Healthcare, Law and Ethics from Manchester University.
She has also published several academic papers, and was involved in teaching, training and examining medical students & Junior Doctors.
8. Family Medicine – tell us more
We treat a wide range of conditions, including:
– Cold, flu & ENT infections
– Dermatological complaints
– Wound dressing
– Gynaecological examinations & smears
– Diabetes & chronic diseases
– Blood pressure diagnosis & management
– Cardiovascular issue management
– Family planning
– Health screenings
– Weight management
– Additions, incl. smoking
– Travel immunisations
– General counselling
9. Paediatrics – tell us more
We treat a wide range of conditions, including:
– Acute illnesses
– Cold, flu & fever
– Eczema & skin conditions
– Pre-natal counselling
– New born advice, incl. feeding & sleeping
– Developmental checks
– Well baby health checks
– Schools health checks
– Allergy advice
– Chronic illnesses
10. Female friendly – what about male patients?
We do have an all-female team, but we cater for everyone – male & female, expat & Qatari, young & old! We aim to provide quality primary healthcare for the whole family.
11. Where are you based and what are your opening times?
Our clinic is based in Duhail, opposite the College of North Atlantic (5 minutes from Landmark mall). This is close to the Pearl, West Bay and West Bay Lagoon.
Our current opening times are Sunday to Thursday 8am – 6pm, but we will expand this soon.
12. Why appointments?
There is nothing worse than waiting around for a doctor for hours when you are feeling ill!
We are trying to create a premium service that you would expect to receive back home. If you have a scheduled appointment, you expect to see your doctor on time and not have to wait hours for an appointment. We are trying to improve the overall patient experience in Doha.
Don’t worry though; we have appointments that we keep free for people to book on the day. If you feel sick in the morning, you can call us and we will fit you in for an appointment during the same day. We think this is preferable to just going to a walk-in clinic and waiting around.
13. How to get in touch (phones, emails, social media)
You can get in touch by calling the clinic 4488 4292, or emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otherwise you can follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theimcentre/.
We are also setting up an Instagram account soon, watch out for theimcentre.
14. Antibiotics and over medication?
Our doctors are focused on prescribing medicine only when required, following international best practice guidelines. They are very careful not to over diagnose or prescribe medication, whenever this is not indicated.
I have experienced this in Doha myself when my husband had a cold. He saw a doctor who prescribed 5 different types of medication plus antibiotics and my husband wanted to take them all! I know there is such a thing as man flu – but that is too much!
We always take a responsible, ethical approach. We do not over-test, over-prescribe and over-treat. Our doctor’s only incentive is to give the patient the best care. We always put patients’ needs first.
15. Social Responsibility – (lectures talks info etc.) how you get involved
We are very passionate about educating the community.
Firstly, a percentage of any profits made will be donated to local charities. This really is a passion project, where we are trying to give back to the community.
Secondly, it is amazing after university how little health education there is out there. Once you are an adult – you are totally left alone! Throw in the fact that you are now an expat and suddenly you are lost in the system and you have no one to talk to or nowhere to go to!
We are committed to help educate the community, and engage more widely than just at the clinic. We offer health talks and sessions to corporations, schools and nurseries, where we can give advice on a variety of different topics for people to help manage their own health. Our goal is to become the primary healthcare provider that is trusted by the community.
16. Who are you – what is your background?
It’s funny how life comes full circle!
I was actually born in Qatar, lived here until I was four, until my family moved over to London. Admittedly when I was growing up, no-one knew where Doha was!
Following university, I worked on the Trading Floor at an Investment Bank for over 10 years – as far away from healthcare as you can get! Having quit my job and moved over to Qatar for my husband, after 6 months or so I was personally incredibly frustrated at the healthcare my friends & family were receiving here.
I felt a real passion about trying to improve things to offer a level of quality and service you would expect back home. The rest as they say is history…
Head over to their website for more information on The International Medical Centre or their physiotherapy centre at The International Physiotherapy Centre.
Or visit their Facebook Page.
We try to keep this information up to date but if you notice that something needs updating then please contact us on email@example.com