Medstars in their Eyes| Mr Joseph Aquilina

Joseph Aquilina

Medstars met with consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, Mr Joseph Aquilina, at The Royal London Hospital.

Joe provides a “one-stop” service with immediate access to ultrasound scanning in both NHS and private settings. This allows him, in 95% of cases, to reach a diagnosis and start treatment after just one consultation.

Joe’s philosophy of a “one-stop” clinic is particularly useful in assisting his expert management of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), menstrual disorders, pelvic pain and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Impressively, Joe has set up the Fetal Medicine Service at The Royal London Hospital and has been editor of the Women’s Health Section of Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for the past 10 years.

Despite his non-stop “one-stop” clinic, Joe still made time for a quick chat…

My friends and family describe me as…

“I would say I am generous, passionate, determined, and easy-going as a boss and as a teacher. If I say I am going to do something I will do it.”

I love my job because…

“It’s being a doctor really; it’s making a difference. You are in a position of trust and you can make such a difference to people’s lives and I don’t think you appreciate this at the start of your career. Sometimes it’s just offering words of reassurance and examining them and saying “you have nothing wrong with you”. By and large in my specialty, I generally deliver good news. I think one of the reasons I shied away from paediatrics, cancer and fertility is because I don’t like breaking bad news.”

My greatest professional accomplishment is…

“Within the NHS, I think it’s setting up the Fetal Medicine Unit at The Royal London Hospital. I started about 19 years ago when there was nothing. I had to borrow a machine from the scenography department to carry out my scanning clinic. Now we have nine ultrasound rooms, three consultants and four junior doctors working for us.

Privately, it would have to be offering my own ultrasound service. I take pride in the fact I do my own scans and can interpret them and discuss the results with patients immediately. Patients don’t leave the consultation feeling uncertain.

It’s very different from sending a form summarising a patient’s condition to a technician for them to carry out the scan and then send the results back to a gynaecologist to be interpreted.

For example, PCOS is a condition with a number of variants and some women may be borderline but they’re told that they’re normal but in actual fact they’re not. I believe this can happen when scans aren’t interpreted in the right way.

PCOS is an umbrella of syndromes and not everybody is the same. I see a lot of women becoming anxious and and my greatest satisfaction is clarifying exactly what the issue is and whether or not they’re going to have a fertility problem or whether its just a skin problem.”

The Royal London Hospital

Advancements in my field include…

“As part of my training we looked at the screening, treatment and prevention of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) and there may be treatments in the pipeline which would prevent pre-eclampsia. However, I think we are behind in terms of pre-term labour. There are still a substantial number of women who go in into labour prematurely and I think in terms of challenges, we haven’t cracked that one yet. As in, how to prevent pre-term labour.”

If I wasn’t a consultant gynaecologist, I would be a…

“I used to want to be a pilot. In some ways I think it’s comparable to being a doctor because a lot of people put their trust in you and there’s a lot of responsibility and you’re responsible for peoples’ wellbeing. That said, I’d also love to be DJ! I am from the disco generation and I used to go to a lot of youth club parties.”

My greatest accomplishment outside of work is…

“It’s probably my daughters – they are 21 and 18. My eldest is at university in Bristol in her second year studying history and she’s really enjoying it. My youngest is in her second year of sixth form and is more artsy and creative. She wants to do film.”

I’m inspired by…

“I think watching too many episodes of Marcus Welby, M.D when I was nine or 10 is what made me want to become a doctor – he made people smile. And by the time I started my O Levels I knew I wanted to do Obstetrics. I had started reading a medical book about an American trainee who was doing his residence in Obstetrics and Gynecology and I knew even before I turned up to medical school that that’s what I wanted to do.”

The best advice I’ve been given is…

“The best advice I’ve been given is to just go for it, follow your dream. If you really believe in something, do not give up. It’s interesting because before I got my first job in the UK, I used to put in 250 applications every week. I probably did that for 10-12 weeks. Then I attended a course in preparation for an exam and one of the other people on the course was was working in Bristol at the time and she said “we have a job coming up and if you come and meet my consultant, I’m sure they’d give you the job. I went and said hello and 6 weeks later I received a phone call saying that I’d got the job. It came through a very unexpected avenue but I would say never give up on your dreams.

Joe’s philosophy is to live life to the full, cherish your loved ones and support Liverpool!

I grew up in Malta and was there for 24 years. Malta is a very small place, an old British Colony with a British system of education, and any doctor who trained in Malta would come to London for their postgraduate training. It’s considered a mark of establishing yourself. It was scary in a way but I knew that I had to leave. It excited me more than anything. I don’t regret it and I’ve been here for 28 years now. It’s certainly lived up to my expectations.”

Music that makes me happy includes…

“In terms of music that uplifts me, it would be Pink Floyd. My favourite album is probably Dark Side of the Moon. I do like dance music as well though. I have been to a lot of dance classes and have learned how to jive. So yeah, I really enjoy that sort of stuff!”

I like Medstars because…

“I think it gives medicine a bit more substance and colour. I especially like the concierge service because it makes it easier for people who need help carrying out research.”

You can book a consultation with Mr Joseph Aquilina, who has expertise in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), menstrual disorders, pelvic pain, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and fetal medicine & gynaelogical ultrasounds, here.

Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician

First Visit £250

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