The cohort 1 Trailblazer fellows started their projects in December 2020 and completed them in November 2021. You can find out more about them and their fellowship projects by clicking on the links below.
Dr Ben Gray
My name is Ben and I am a Dad, a Husband, a GP and I was one of five inaugural Nottingham fellows. I worked two sessions a week on the fellowship, four sessions at the Windmill Practice in Sneinton and for two other sessions I was a locum at an inspiring inner city practice in Birmingham. My two sessions for the fellowship were split between three different areas: national teaching, local teaching and project work. As a trailblazer fellow I got to be part of a much bigger network of similar fellows across the country and we met up on the last Friday of the month for teaching and shared learning. These sessions were a huge highlight as I got to learn about areas of medicine I have wanted to hear about ever since I first went to medical school. The local sessions provided an excellent support with projects, picking up ideas from each other and learning from more experienced passionate GPs.
The project I undertook was in partnership with the Nottinghamshire and Nottingham Refugee Forum (NNRF) and was 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. I am proud to have created and shared a set of videos that look professional and have been well received by refugees and asylum seekers and to be part of a project that is building better relationships between third sector organisations and general practice.
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. 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
Having achieved CCT in 2015, I 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 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 these barriers may be overcome. My project findings have been discussed with the multi-disciplinary team, including PCN Clinical Pharmacists, Nurses and Social Prescriber Link Workers, who are now targeting these patients individually and helping to support them based on the information gathered. I am proud that Hba1c levels have been observed to drop reasonably well since then.
Alongside my clinical and project work, I was also able to use my study/educational time effectively, via completion of the GP Trainers’ Course, enabling me to become an Educational Supervisor for GPVTS registrars. 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 was 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 provided a wonderful opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues on a broader, national basis.
The Local Programme enabled us to connect with each other in an encouraging environment for peer support and to share ideas regarding our project work. The role 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 have now become a GP partner in my Trailblazer practice. 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.
During the fellowship I did 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 were well organised, of extremely high quality and very applicable to day-to-day practice. It gave 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 was both through communicating to patients directly and making vaccinations more accessible to them.
In addition, I was able to use educational time and a bursary to complete the Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I also completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education.
Dr Jonathan Liu
I finished my GP VTS training in Nottingham in November 2020 and became 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. Through my experiences, I 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 found 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 obtained a large amount of clinical knowledge working in a deprived area.
My project component involved identifying high frequency health seeking users and exploring aspects of their care that could be improved and might ultimately impact their service use.
Dr Julia Oni
Working as a Trailblazer fellow 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 was 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.
The fellowship 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.
I undertook both quantitative and qualitative data collection and was able to explore women’s views and opinions about the postnatal check. I was able to learn about how F12 templates are produced and maintained and I am proud to have produced a postnatal template that is used across Nottinghamshire. I plan to share my completed report and recommendations with the ICS. I am completing a post graduate certificate in Public Health and hope to continue working towards an academic career.
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