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This article was first published by eliteplus Online magazine Dated: 16th Dec 2022

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A British GP Who Has Made a Home in Bangkok

Dr Donna Robinson

By Kathleen Pokrud, Honorary Columnist

     Dr Donna Robinson, founder and CEO of MedConsult Clinic, has lived in Bangkok since 1990 and now describes Thailand as home. Elite+ caught up with the sought-after expatriate doctor with a Thai medical license to talk about some common medical issues often faced by expatriates residing here. 

     Dr Donna began by explaining what brought her to Thailand. “I moved here to follow my husband, Ian, whom I met in Hong Kong. I am a doctor from Newcastle in England where I originally qualified, but when I first moved here, I could not practice medicine because I did not hold a Thai Medical License. I took a job with ASIN, an NGO, but had no idea how difficult it would be for me to not be allowed to treat patients and practice medicine. Seeing patients is what fulfills and brings me joy.”


     Dr Donna finally became one of the first foreign doctors to receive a Thai medical license. “The Thai Medical License exam was in English some years before I took it, but it changed back to Thai. which of course is reasonable since you must be able to communicate with the people of the country where you are working. I was young then and decided to get back to being a doctor, which meant I had to learn Thai.”

     “I also went to see the dean of the Chulalongkorn University Medical School. He planned a six-month attachment for me following the same schedule as medical students and newly qualified doctors. That was all free, but now I am sure you would have to pay. Everyone was so helpful in supporting my goal, which included courses at Siriraj and Ramathibodi hospitals.”

     Dr Donna further elaborated, “I studied at night after work and used past papers on medical exams. After two years, I passed the Thai Medical Exam and continue to also hold my UK Medical License. Now my nights are a glass of wine and watching a movie.”

      Elite+ asked Dr Donna what are the most common concerns of foreigners residing in Thailand. She commented, “Foreigners often ask if they can get certain medicines once they move to Thailand. Some even ask if the doctors here speak English. Medical textbooks are in English and Thai. Many Thai doctors are trained at top universities in the US and UK. The quality of care is really excellent here. Patients often find it hard to decide which hospital to choose or which doctor to consult. This is where we can help as a General Practice clinic.”

     Every year Thailand receives many newly-arrived expats to Thailand, especially elderly retirees and young families. Dr Donna advised, “Everyone should have health insurance at least for major medical problems. Young families are concerned about vaccinations, so making sure they are kept up to date is important when you move here. I reassure people they can get professional medical treatment in Bangkok.”

     As a seasoned medical practitioner in Bangkok, Dr Donna frankly discussed her view of the hospital care expats in Bangkok, “Hospital care is excellent. There are top specialists here and you can have full confidence in them. After working in Thailand for so long, I have worked closely with many. I can always match a patient with the right hospital specialist. The fact hospitals are ‘JCI certified’ means that every single clinic or doctor in Bangkok must work according to the highest international and Thai guidelines, so the quality of care is on an international level.”

     MedConsult is Dr Donna’s private practice, and she explained the kind of medical help the clinic offers, “We are a general practice so a whole host of services are offered.  Patients’ most common problems are chest infections, stomach bugs and medical prescriptions. Sometimes we treat patients suffering from depression and anxiety. We also provide medical checkups, blood tests and, of course, Botox and fillers.”

     As our interview ended, Elite+ asked Dr Donna her view of Thailand after residing here for three decades. She candidly shared, “I look on Thailand more and more as home, but I guess like all expats I think of my birth country, the UK, as home and yet when I visit the UK, I always feel more at home in Bangkok.”

     Adding a few last words for our readers, she said “Living in this large international city you will meet all kinds of people and many who come here have interesting stories to tell. I also found with our Covid testing that many Thais live all over the world as expats. We sometimes complain about the hardships of being an expat, but they too are expats; so understand what it is like to be living in a foreign place.”

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