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Challenging comfort in the status quo...

Could a global outlook inspire change?

Everyone agrees we need change, but with how busy we are, there’s usually no time or headspace to think about what could improve life for us and our patients. Then there’s the challenge of engaging others with ideas who are already close to burnout- it’s not surprising we struggle to start! Can the experience of colleagues working overseas, combined with the expertise of WiseGP, help us to think – and do things – differently?


Often simple healthcare innovations can be cheap and effective. However, they can carry the risk of unintended consequences, which may be a barrier to change. Some of the best innovations are made during emergencies when certain resources aren’t available, or in remote places where there is a lack of medical support or funding.


I’ve continued to work as a GP in the same community that I grew up in. It has advantages-for example, when someone tells me walking between a local supermarket and a particular high street shop makes them breathless, I know exactly what distance they mean. Familiarity can be comforting, but comfort in the status quo can be a barrier to change- to thrive in the modern healthcare environment we have to be innovative, since the workload has risen, resources have fallen and the goalposts keep changing.


Change may come more easily to people who have experienced working in different healthcare settings. Consider being based in a community clinic in rural Africa. To save lives, you may have to innovate. Hopefully not as extreme as on Dr House, when a carpenters’ drill was used to drain an extradural haematoma, but it could be designing a triage system that only allocates appointments and resources to those most in need, or establishing a rota of community volunteers who can provide emergency hospital transport. Such innovations may happen through necessity, supported by a lack of red tape that could hold us back in the UK.


So as resources become scarcer in the UK, should we be looking to our colleagues with experience working in different healthcare settings for inspiration?


I recently read about a community outreach project in Westminster, inspired by the experiences of a GP working in Brazil. While in Brazil, community health workers had been their eyes and ears, identifying problems early, connecting people to health and social services and building an understanding of the neighbourhood as a whole. The UK-based pilot involved healthcare workers directly visiting members of the community in their homes to build bridges and connect them with services. They improved uptake of healthcare screening and vaccinations, while insights into the community’s needs helped practices to direct resources to fit the needs of their population. Here’s a video about the successful pilot.


How does this compare with the work Social Prescribers do within your PCN? Every community is different, so perhaps you have a better system that suits your population’s needs. In a previous blog, we highlighted the work of a WiseGP using technology to identify and address underlying health inequalities in their practice community. We know by addressing underlying inequalities, we can improve a population’s health, hence reduce appointment demand- a change in practice that benefits staff and patients.


Given the community outreach pilot was inspired by the experiences of a GP working in Brazil, perhaps you might reach out to members of your own team...

Do you have colleagues with experience of working in international healthcare settings? Could you draw on their diverse experiences for inspiration?


Given how many GPs are currently lacking time and headspace, are there other members of your practice team who could lead changes with support? Over half of new GP trainees this year were international medical graduates (1)- perhaps they could inspire and lead new innovative approaches in your everyday practice- to benefit you and your patients?

Dr Annabelle Machin



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