Meet the Trailblazer Fellows

The current Trailblazer fellows started their projects in December 2020. You can find out more about them and their fellowship projects by clicking on the links below.

Dr Ben Gray

Ben G My name is Ben and I am a Dad, a Husband, a GP and for this year a trailblazer fellow. I am one of five inaugural Nottingham fellows. I work two sessions a week on the fellowship, four sessions at the Windmill Practice in Sneinton and for two other sessions I locum at an inspiring inner city practice in Birmingham. My two sessions for the fellowship are split between three different areas: National teaching, local teaching and projects. As a trailblazer fellow I get to be part of a much bigger network of similar fellows across the country and we meet up on the last Friday of the month for teaching and shared learning. These sessions are a huge highlight as I have got to learn about areas of medicine I have wanted to hear about ever since I first went to medical school. The local sessions have provided an excellent support with projects, picking up ideas from each other and learning from more experienced passionate GPs. The project I have undertaken is in partnership with the Nottinghamshire and Nottingham Refugee Forum (NNRF) and is in response to some excellent focus groups they had performed, looking at experiences of health care in the local area. The research highlighted how difficult this group find it to access health care and how the structure works. In response to this I have been part of a team designing and making short videos in different languages that explain different aspects of the health care system. This has been part funded by a local PCN and has already had some positive feedback from NNRF service users.

When I found out that the trailblazer fellowship existed, I was incredibly excited, as I had been looking for something in health inequality and was about to start volunteering my time to do some CPD in the area. It is not an exaggeration to say it has surpassed my expectations. There are three main things I have taken from the six months so far: firstly, I have been inspired by likeminded GPs, which is no small thing in general practice, where you can so easily feel isolated. Secondly, my approach to complex patients has been transformed, instead of the classic heart sink I now look forward to seeing them. Finally, I feel much more optimistic about the future of general practice after meeting so many caring and passionate health care workers through the fellowship.

Dr Minali Gupta

Minali Having achieved CCT in 2015, I recently embarked on a Trailblazers Fellowship based at The Forest Practice, Mary Potter Health Centre. This is a surgery in Hyson Green, with high deprivation indices, great diversity and significant health inequalities. I have had the opportunity to develop a project focusing on patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus, barriers they may face during management and engagement with various community services, and methods by which we may possibly overcome these barriers in the future.

Alongside my clinical and project work, I have also been able to use my study/educational time effectively, via completion of the GP Trainers’ Course, enabling me to become an Educational Supervisor for GPVTS registars. This has involved completion of a Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Education, which has taught me valuable skills in supervision, assessment, mentoring and feedback.

The National Programme of educational sessions held monthly has been incredibly helpful, not simply clinically but also more holistically, incorporating topics such as Adverse Childhood Experiences, Refugee Health, Chronic Pain and Trauma Informed Care. Additionally, it has provided a wonderful opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues on a broader, national basis.

The Local Programme has been enabled us to connect with each other in an encouraging environment for peer support and to share ideas regarding our project work. We hope to get to know one another a lot better as COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing rules hopefully relax in the summertime! I have really enjoyed the first six months of my Trailblazers Fellowship; the role has enabled me to not only learn valuable new skills and connect with colleagues both on a local and national level, but it has also helped me achieve greater clarity regarding my future career aspirations. I would highly recommend the Fellowship to any GP, regardless of experience and background.

Dr Alainna Joshua

I was particularly interested in the Nottingham Trailblazers Fellowship as I find it rewarding working in areas of both health and social deprivation where small interventions that increase access to healthcare can translate to a great improvement in patient outcomes. I hope we see the 12 year difference in life expectancy between the most and least affluent parts of Nottingham diminish within our lifetime. Future Trailblazers could indeed be the crucial cogwheels in setting into motion the changes that start to make this happen.

Currently, I do four clinical sessions at Fairfields Practice in Hyson Green, two sessions a week for the Trailblazer sessions and out of hours sessions in Nottingham City Centre. The Trailblazer Fellowship sessions involve national and local teaching sessions, project work and study.

Both the national and local teaching sessions organised by the Trailblazer Fellowship have been well organised, of extremely high quality and very applicable to day-to-day practice. It has given us an opportunity to meet like-minded GPs locally and nationally. We also were given group and individual coaching sessions which I found surprisingly insightful.

Based on the most deprived populations having the highest covid mortality yet lowest vaccination rates I focused on increasing the uptake of Covid vaccinations in the practice population for my project. This has been both through communicating to patients directly and making vaccinations more accessible to them.

In addition, I have been able to use educational time and a bursary to complete the Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I have started the Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education, which I should complete before the end of my Fellowship.

Dr Jonathan Liu

Jonathan L I finished my GP VTS training in Nottingham in November 2020. I am a Trailblazer fellow based in High Green Medical Practice in Hyson Green, which is a deprived area in Nottingham.

The Trailblazer fellowship interested me, as it was an opportunity to see first hand how health outcomes can be poorer in deprived communities. From my experience so far, I have realised that there can be numerous challenges in the consultation, which include language barriers, substance misuse and suboptimal control of chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Although the complexity of these consultations can be higher, I have been finding it easier to navigate these cases due to the supportive staff at the practice and through regular discussions with other Trailblazer fellows and supervisors to share each other’s experiences and obtain feedback. Despite only recently qualifying as a GP, I found that I’ve obtained a large amount of clinical knowledge working in a deprived area.

My project component involves identifying high frequency health seeking users and exploring aspects of their care that can be improved and might ultimately impact their service use.

Dr Julia Oni

Julia O Working as a Trailblazer fellow has enabled me to work four sessions within a practice in a deprived area, alongside two sessions working on a quality improvement project aiming to reducing health inequalities in primary care. My project is around assessing the inequalities that exist within postnatal health and morbidities, and how the GP 6-8 week postnatal check might be utilised as an intervention to reduce these. The postnatal check is currently underutilised and represents a chance in addressing postnatal morbidity, including mental health issues, alongside health promotion and screening.

This has also given me a great opportunity to work with others in both Public Health and Academic GP, as well as understanding some of barriers that women face when accessing health care in primary care in the postnatal period. It has been interesting to work alongside like-minded colleagues, both locally and nationally, and hear about their experiences of working with people living in the most deprived areas and marginalised groups.


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