Dr Antoinette Savvas - balancing work and home life in these turbulent times

Dr. Antoinette Savvas

Dr. Antoinette Savvas - Credit: Archant

Dr. Antoinette Savvas is a GP practicing in the Fens, living in Newmarket with her family and her mother who has been shielding up until this week. Antoinette, speaks about the challenges trying to juggle taking care of her three daughters and supporting her mother, whilst working, along with the need to keep the usual household chores and homeschooling going. Here she talks to Gina Long

Dr. Antoinette Savvas

Dr. Antoinette Savvas - Credit: Archant

What’s the impact of Covid-19 on your role and how are you adapting?

In many ways as GPs we are still here providing primary care, this has not changed. Before the pandemic, we had already adapted to try and accommodate remote consultation with online access using a system called “Ask my GP”. As with any system change, it took a while to adjust and it was pivotal to make sure that it worked well for both us and our patients. We also significantly reduced contact with clinicians to try and minimise the cross spread of infection, whilst ensuring everyone that our support received it. It’s amazing that we are living in a time that has made remote working possible, although for some of those who are working from home it’s been very challenging.

What help and advice can you offer our readers during Covid-19 times?

Trying to do those things they know makes them feel well, exercise is a big one in our family, sleep, connection with loved ones, and the eternal….. ‘wash your hands’, it’s a low key technology that has a high yield in terms of its effect.

What is your connection to East Anglia?

We moved here as a family from Manchester when I was pregnant with our third daughter for work reasons. Our youngest is Suffolk born. We now consider Suffolk our home.

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What is your East Anglian Heaven i.e. what do you love most about East Anglia?

We had a wonderful welcome here, so the people first and foremost! I particularly love the climate and the feeling of space that the landscape provides.

What is your East Anglian Hell i.e. what you hate most about living here?

I thought I would be able to see my close friends who live in other cities, more than I manage to. I get frustrated with the public transport networks sometimes…

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

Most definitely, Ely Cathedral. I am very fortunate to see this beauty on my daily commute. The impressive view does not seem to lessen with familiarity.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

I love the change of seasons and every season, especially Spring in this beautiful county.

What your specialist Mastermind subject?


What is always in your fridge?

Close…. between butter, cheese, and Colman’s mustard, probably cheese pips the others to the post.

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Show up, and with the eternal words of Elsa…… “Let it go”.

What’s your favourite film?

Tricky, as different films fulfil different moods. I have been thinking a lot about 28 Days Later, I absolutely loved it as it has a message of hope. For comfort Harry Potter (maybe not the last few, as they are a bit much for the younger in our brood), all my children love it and we can all enjoy it together as a family.

What was your first job?

I was a volunteer in a Rudolf Steiner school, aged 16. My first paid job was in Burger King throughout the summer holidays when I was 17.

What is your most treasured possession?

I am not big on valuables, but I love my Contigo flask. The ease of this magnificent item means I can have a cup of coffee that I throw into my bag, what’s not to like?

Who do you admire most?

My mother and father’s resilience, my grandmother’s kindness, and my husband’s energy, intellect, and hard work (reader, I married him). Aside from my family, I have great admiration for Yuval Hariri’s and his sweeping historical interpretation of mankind made me hungry for anything he said. I have heard this man meditates for two hours a day to create space for his insights. Recently, I have been learning about the ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft, which have amazed me.

What’s you biggest Indulgence?

Bread and butter, or is it melted warm chocolate and cornflakes? I cannot decide, they are equally as moreish.

What do you like about yourself most?

I’m even tempered.

What’s your worst character trait?

Finishing my husband’s sentences.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

Lesbos, Greece. We go to a small fishing village there every year, which is utter bliss. It’s pretty difficult there at the moment, which is a huge understatement as people have fled Syria through Turkey to try and get into Europe. The refugees stay in camps on the island, which puts everything into perspective.

Best day of your life?

The birth of each of my children. Are you going to make me choose which one?

What’s your favourite breakfast?

Sourdough with salted butter and sliced tomato.

What’s your favourite tipple?

Hot chocolate and Navy rum, it appeals to my inner pirate!

What’s your hidden talent?

I don’t know, perhaps finishing my husband’s sentences.

What’s your earliest memory?

A bumble bee landed on my nose, I must have been about four years old. It seemed so humongous at the time; I could not see as I was walking along. My dad had taught me not to be afraid of bees, so I kept walking slowly and didn’t move or panic and it flew away.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I don’t really mind, the funeral is for those left behind, I won’t complain about the choices ……or will I?

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I wanted to call my first child Buffy (but it was vetoed). This series spoke to me and I watched it while in my late 20s. I was a junior doctor at the time, this young woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders resonated. As a junior doctor I was faced with life and death decisions, Buffy was dealing with saving the worked from vampires, something I identified with her.

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

I can remember something from a couple of years ago someone said (I won’t repeat it here) but it can’t be the worst thing, I think my mind doesn’t dwell on other people’s words, as much is said by mistake, people are tired, hungry not thinking, I let it go.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.

The climate is a big draw, but our children are East Anglian now and we have set down roots.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

I want everyone to know that general practices are still open, we are working in a different way, we have adapted to the new normal and can do a lot remotely and safely using the telephone, email or video consultations. We are still seeing patients if need be and have made the surgeries much safer because of the adaptations we have made, along with a reduction of footfall within the surgeries. Please don’t be worried to contact us we are still here for you.

Human beings are survivors and have shown resilience and adaptation throughout history. We are strongest when we can co-operate and we are co-operating.

Are you or your business doing something special during Covid-19 times? If you are living in Suffolk or Norfolk, have an interesting story or are adapting your business, please do email me at gina@hallfarmfornham.com or follow Twitter: @geewizzgee1 Instagram: ginalongmbe