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At the heart of general practice since 1960

1. Dr Kate Pickering

'Truly a legend'

dr pickering kate 3x2

dr pickering kate 3x2

It is not an overstatement to say that Dr Pickering has ‘managed to save Islay’s medical services from the brink’, as one GP colleague put it when nominating her.

When she started on the Inner Hebridean island of Islay five years ago, its three singlehanded practices were only able to survive thanks to the work of a series of locums, while adverts for newcomers often failed

to attract a single candidate. In addition, the distance to the Scottish mainland meant providing medical services to the population was difficult and costly.

Yet Dr Pickering – a GP locum on the island herself before taking a vacant principal post – has seemingly managed the impossible in her role as clinical lead for medical services for Islay and Jura: she’s recruited a new team for the islands, reduced the need for patients to travel to Scotland for hospital treatment and cut the number of callouts for the air ambulance.

‘In Kate’s time the practices have gone from getting no applicants for jobs to seven appointable applicants for the most recent post,’ her nominator said.

This year, Dr Pickering – who is also an honorary senior lecturer in remote and rural medicine at the University of Glasgow – achieved this through federating Islay’s three practices into one provider – the ‘Umbrella Model’, with patient records now available across all three sites.

Demand for attachments from medical students shot up after a conference, organised by University of Glasgow students, attracted 60 from as far away as Oxford and London.

She also managed to reduce the number of trips needed to take patients to mainland hospitals by air though the use of a multidisciplinary team, made possible by improved recruitment, upskilling of the whole clinical team, and better links with specialists on the mainland.

This has been highly successful – between 2012 and 2016, there was an significant overall reduction in air transfers.

In a presentation on the work at the RCGP’s annual conference, Dr Pickering and fellow authors concluded that the transformation of medical services on Islay should be replicable in other remote and rural areas.

What she says ‘The future for remote and rural practice is bright’

What others says ‘Kate truly is a legend and thoroughly deserves recognition’

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