Clare Gerada was born in Nigeria although her father came from Malta, and the family moved to the United Kingdom in 1963. Her father opened a sole trader general practitioner practice in Peterborough.
She qualified as a GP in 1992 and started work in general practice in Lambeth, London, the same year. She cites her main interests of work as being around mental health and substance misuse and has spent over her professional career leading the development of primary care substance (alcohol, drugs) services in England. In 2000, she established the Substance Misuse Unit at the RCGP.
She has also been Director of Primary Care for the National Clinical Governance Team and Senior Medical Advisor to the Department of Health, and is Medical Director of the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, which provides confidential medical advice for doctors and dentists.
She is one of the partners in the Hurley Group which runs a number of GP practices and walk-in centres across London.
In September 2013 she was appointed as the chairperson of Clinical Board, Primary Care Transformation, NHS England (London Region), to take up the position the following month. She resigned from this position in April 2015 so she could speak out against what she calls the Conservatives' "desperate quest for privatisation".
She established the Practitioner Health Programme to support general practitioners, dentists and other health professionals with mental health and associated issues. In March 2019 The Care Quality Commission rated the service outstanding.