26. Professor Graham Watt
Defender of deprived practices
The architect of the ‘Deep End’ project is a hero to many in general practice, and his project is flourishing. The original Deep End group is formed of the practices serving the 100 most deprived populations in Scotland, acting as a network to help overcome the particular challenges facing these practices, and to highlight the impact of inequalities on population health.
It was Deep End that introduced the idea of the ‘links worker’, a non-medical staff member embedded within the practice to offer advice to patients on claiming income and the like. Professor Watt says the Parkhead Welfare Advice Project he steered ‘generated an average of £7,000 additional annual income for patients, 80% of whom were new claimants, while reducing the call on GP time and allowing GPs to spend more time on clinical problems’.
His biggest success this year is the spread of Deep End, from Scotland to Ireland, Yokshire and Humber and Greater Manchester.
His professional year has been tinged with sadness though. His mentor Dr Julian Tudor Hart passed away this year. Dr Tudor Hart’s ‘inverse care law’ stated that the availability of good medical or social care tends to vary inversely with the need of the population served, and served as the basis for the Deep End project. Professor Watt says his favourite moment of the past year was a ‘final dinner’ with Dr Tudor Hart in February.
Professor Watt is retired ‘though still active on important topics’. His influence continues to grow stronger.
Why influential: Respect for a lifetime of fighting for the marginalised in society
Random fact: ‘Scored a (brilliant) goal for ’Scotland’ in a scratch football match between a Glasgow Lord Provost’s team and a local Palestinian team at the Aida Refuge Camp, Bethlehem on 24 June 2018’