Cannon & bawl! Baby's first cry was in a toilet thanks to Ellie

By Simon Yaffe

GP Ellie Cannon has been a regular on our television screens for the past few years, handing out advice on all manner of medical conditions.

But Newcastle-raised Ellie - who has appeared on programmes such as Health Freaks and Doctor In Your House, as well as contributing on ITV, Channel 5 and BBC News - did not take a conventional route into TV.

"It was what I describe as a 'happy accident'," she told me.

"I met someone who was working as a health journalist and they later asked me for a quote for a story.

"That person went on to set up the health section for the Mail on Sunday and I began to write pieces for that.

"Once I was doing that, I was asked to go on TV."

But Ellie, who is also Sky News' Sunrise programme medical expert, was nervous when she first appeared on screen.

"I was concerned that maybe people would not take me very seriously," she recalled.

"Now, though, I am comfortable doing it. I really enjoy explaining medical issues to non-medical people."

There is no hint of a Geordie accent with Ellie, but perhaps that is because she was raised by Londoner parents in that city.

She enjoyed a traditional upbringing, attending Jewish primary school and going on Israel tour with the Union of Jewish Students.

Ellie read medicine at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

"I never thought about going into any other profession as I have always wanted to look after people," the 40-year-old said.

"It was a normal progression for me to become a doctor."

While at Cambridge, Ellie met husband Adam, who now works as a libel lawyer.

They have two children, Lottie, 13, and 10-year-old Jude.

Ellie trained at London's Royal Free Medical School for five years, where she received her Doctor of Medicine degree.

"Cambridge was very scientific and academic, but the three years I spent at the Royal Free were totally ward-based, within each ward, such as paediatrics or psychiatry," she recalled.

"It was about getting to know patients and working with the doctors, so it was more like an apprenticeship.

"I would be on call and stay late with the other doctors. It was good fun."

Ellie had initially intended to become a paediatrician, but found it hard to deal with in practice.

"Although I could cope with the children being physically ill, I found it difficult dealing with the emotional side of it, such as kids who had suffered abuse," she explained. "It was taxing on my own emotions."

Deciding to go into general practice, she spent two years as a junior doctor and then went on a GP training scheme.

"As a GP, you deal with a lot of paediatrics, but are protected from the grittier issues, although not totally," Ellie said.

She is now part of a practice on London's Abbey Road, which is famous for the recording studio where The Beatles recorded.

Ellie, who lives in Hampstead Garden Suburb, has been there for nine years.

"I love people and I'm totally fascinated by them," she explained. "I love hearing what makes people tick.

"You have to be interested in patients holistically, too, as well as being empathetic.

"Their personal and working lives can affect their health."

Drama is never far away at a doctor's surgery and Ellie recalled delivering a baby in its toilets.

"I remember telling a colleague that it was quite a boring day - until that happened," she laughed.

"Luckily, I had done obstetrics for over a year so I had already delivered a few babies."

There has been a rise in the number of documentaries which focus on doctors and hospitals, such as 24 Hours in A&E and GPs: Behind Closed Doors.

Ellie believes this can only be beneficial. She explained: "These programmes show the emotions of staff, which is a huge part of being a doctor.

"I do not think many people realise that. It is not just about someone breaking their leg and fixing it - the reality is more hard-hitting."

Three years ago, Ellie wrote her first book, Keep Calm: The New Mum's Manual.

Her second book, Is Your Job Making You Ill? is due to be published in February, 2018.

"Both books are based on experiences I have had in my clinic," she said.

"I suggested the job book to my publisher because I see a huge amount of job-related stress and illness. It is amazing how much there is.

"The official figures show huge numbers of people are off work every year because their job is making them ill.

"I wanted to come up with a self-help guide for what to do if that is happening to someone."

She penned her first book because "I would see new parents and they would often be confused with all the advice on offer, which was often conflicting," she explained.

"They would often feel guilty, frazzled and baffled. The idea was to write something to help relax them as very few things they are told are actually important."

When it comes to Judaism, Ellie said she is "strongly and culturally Jewish".

She visits Israel twice a year, too, and describes herself as a "strong Zionist".

"I am a huge believer in the power of community, which Jewish people are very good at," she added.

"When David Cameron first talked of The Big Society, I thought, 'Jews have been doing that for years', what with our care for the elderly and our various health charities.

"I have experienced that community support myself.

"What I love about the Jewish community is that we are so good at running our own mini-welfare state.

"The Federation of Jewish Services (The Fed) in Manchester is a great example of that."

There is a stereotype that Jews tend to be hypochondriacs, which Ellie believes has some truth.

"I fit into that category myself," she laughed. "I think it is inherent, actually."

What is also inherent are diseases such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer, which are more prevalent among Ashkenazim.

"This is because Ashkenazim tend to marry each other, therefore the recessive genes become apparent," Ellie said.

On Wednesday, May 17 (7.30pm), Ellie will be on a panel in Manchester at The Fed's debate 'Are You Mum Enough?'

Chaired by journalist Angela Epstein, appearing alongside Ellie will be parenting enthusiast Amy Winter, child clinical psychologist Dr Daniel Weisberg and Prestwich Children's Centre support worker Nicola Walker.

"So much has been written about parenting as a scientific discipline," Ellie said.

"Panels like these are really valuable because guests get to see a group of experts talking and being able to answer issues face to face.

"When it comes to parenting, there is so much confusion and lack of understanding. It is a nice opportunity to get out there and give good parenting advice."

For more details on the event, phone Zoe on 0161-772 4967 or email

© 2017 Jewish Telegraph