‘My role is to investigate, diagnose and treat a wide range of digestive disorders and gastroenterological problems.’ So says consultant gastroenterologist, Dr Sean Preston, one of the founding members of London Digestive Health (LDH) – part of HCA Healthcare UK, a group of gastroenterologists that come together as a team across their sub-specialties within the field to provide the very best care to patients.
Patients often come to Preston, a consultant at the Royal London Hospital, after spending months seeing other doctors without a diagnosis being established. ‘Having more time with my patients allows me to gain a better understanding of their symptoms and to choose the most clinically appropriate tests and examinations. From there, I can quickly start the most effective treatment, involving other members of the multidisciplinary team if necessary,’ he tells Spear’s. His clinical practice includes the diagnosis and treatment of heartburn, Barrett’s oesophagus, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive diseases, in addition to diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy of oesophagus, stomach and colon.
Preston became a consultant at Barts in 2006. He first realised that he wanted to help people when he was a medical student under the tutelage of leading gastroenterologist, Dr Hugh Barron, who exposed him to the breadth of conditions that can be treated, across a range of patient groups and age ranges. ‘What makes me happiest in my role is being able to offer patients continuity of care. My work with some patients can span decades, providing them with expert advice and treatment which helps them lead a happy and healthy life,’ he adds.
Preston co-founded LDH about 11 years ago. This group comprises good friends – ‘many of whom I first met at medical school over 30 years ago’ – who have spent their lives understanding luminal gastroenterology at leading London NHS teaching hospitals. Preston is one of LDH’s seven consultant gastroenterologists: it also has two specialist gastroenterology dietitians and a clinical hypnotherapist, who all practise from its Marylebone base. The group also has close relationships with other gastrointestinal surgeons, clinical oncologists and radiologists, ‘most of whom work in the same building, enabling us to work together and devise the best possible treatment plan for patients,’ says Preston, who performs more than 600 colonoscopies a year.
‘The people who you see in your practice often become much more than patients, you get to see them during so many stages of their life and you’re able to help them through difficult times with your expertise,’ Preston notes. ‘That’s where you really see the human aspect of my role.’