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20 Aug 2020
In normal years, around this time Pulse would feature our take on the 50 most powerful GPs in the UK. But 2020 is not a normal year. The profession has changed its way of working almost overnight. And this has been led by grassroots GPs, those who are in contact with patients every day, whether that be on the phone, face to face, on video or in Covid hot hubs.
The faces you will see do not make up a definitive list. Rather, they represent the outstanding work that has been done throughout the profession, helping patients, often putting themselves at risk to do so. To find out the kind of work these GPs have been doing, click on their profiles below.
Some of the GPs highlighted here do hold management positions – but all have been thanked by colleagues, peers and patients for lifting others, just as GPs all over the country have done. So, from us to all GPs – thank you for everything.
Afro GP Herts, an education group of 80 GPs of African descent in Hertfordshire, branched out to support local communities. They went to 18 care homes to hand out food items to the carers and raised £2,000 to give to three food banks and a homeless shelter. They are now in the process of sending 4,000 masks to Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.
Dr Kelly was nominated by colleagues after coming back early from a sabbatical in South Africa to London help the pandemic response. As well as working hot hub and out-of-hours shifts she established a rigorous audit of GP consultations, changing the systems and continuing to provide training for GP registrars. Dr Victoria Holt says: ‘She gave up many days of her own time to help ensure that the local GP hot hub has provided excellent care, safe for patients, their GPs and the GPs working within the service.’
Amalendu Podder, a patient at the Roundhay Road Surgery in Leeds, highlighted Dr Paul as a ‘special gift to the community… a kind, conscientious, respectful and compassionate doctor’, and one he credits with helping save his life. He has been shielding and says: ‘Dr Paul continued excellent medical and psychological supports with dignity, kindness, and respect. I had regular telephone conversations, received text messages and leaflets from him which significantly reduced my stress and enhanced my normal life during this unprecedented crisis.’
This Devon GP was nominated by his colleague, Dr Louise Horrocks, for leading the team in revamping the Beacon Medical Practice in Plymouth for the pandemic. He has been integral in rewriting protocols, helping to embrace new technology and prioritising staff and patient care while he has also ‘remained more than active at the LMC, home schooled Ben and Lauren, supported his GP wife Debbie, organised a weekly morale-boosting weekly practice quiz and even baked for the practice!’
In his role as clinical lead at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, Dr Whittamore has been ‘a guiding light’ during the pandemic says his colleague at the charity. While also working at his Portsmouth practice, he has provided the charity with ‘invaluable clinical expertise and support, ensuring people with lung conditions get the most up-to-date, reliable and accessible information’.
This Ealing GP was nominated by Dr Kerry Howard and Dr Paul Evans for highlighting the plight of nursing home residents to the press after giving care to those dying – which also put herself at significant risk. ‘She was at the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic when it hit the poorer communities of London, early… she exemplifies the moral courage required of a leader,’ said Dr Evans.
Dr Lucassen delayed her retirement to help her practice in Mansfield deal with the pandemic, becoming ‘our Covid-19 oracle, always there and with valuable and dependable advice, reading and interpreting the guidance for us’, says colleague Dr Khalid Butt and Sheila Ormerod, chair of the practice’s patient group.
All GPs in the Ayrshire and Arran region deserve recognition due to the ‘commitment, dedication and determination to deliver quality care in hours and out of hours to both Covid 19 and non-Covid 19 presentations’ in recent months, says the LMC’s medical secretary Dr Chris Black. Individual GPs helped design the Covid assessment centres and triage hubs, others took on far more hours in existing or new services, some shielding GPs took on the responsibility of remote triage, a practice supported another by seeing patients during a local outbreak – the list goes on according to Dr Black. ‘None of these heroes deserve praise more than another. We said at the start we were in this together and we should be recognised as one.’
Dr Katherine Carman nominated colleague Dr Burville for ensuring all practices and district nursing teams in north Northumberland were prepared to deal with any Covid scenario. He helped source PPE for care homes, and supported their residents day, night or weekend. ‘The full extent of what Ben has achieved during this pandemic will never be known,’ says Dr Carman. ‘He has shown qualities that are truly heroic and for that we will be eternally grateful.’
Dr Butler-Reid, a local CCG clinical director for Lancashire’s Fylde Coast, has been his area’s go-to source for daily updates on the changes GPs have needed to make during the Covid-19 outbreak. He set up daily calls with practice managers and GPs in the region, informed teams about the latest operating procedures, and found answers to the many concerns among staff. Nearby GP Dr Russell Thorpe describes him as ‘a complete star during the Covid-19 pandemic’.
Dr Roper has managed to turn around two struggling practices in the past year, says Dr Josephine Radwan, a colleague of his. And when he set up a hub in Barry, Wales, in December, to help with the patient overload in local practices, his foresight meant it could be quickly turned into the local Covid hub.
Dr Morgan, a GP in South Wales, led her practice’s response to the outbreak, says Dr Charlotte Jones, her colleague and former chair of GPC Wales. She introduced a Covid assessment area to the practice, organised a marquee for use as a drive-in assessment area and sourced O2 sats equipment and thermometers to loan to patients. ‘She has been a true hero going above and beyond,’ says Dr Jones.
Dr Kumar has been supporting his Slough practice in a number of ways – personally sourcing and delivering laptops to self-isolating staff working remotely due to Covid-19, taking on the sole responsibility for conducting weekly virtual care home rounds, and setting up a Whatsapp group for care home staff to contact him. ‘He has carried our surgery on his back during this pandemic,’ says his wife and colleague Dr Maria-Lena Kumar.
Before the pandemic Dr Choudry was already supporting black, Asian and minority ethnic patients in her role as a trustee of charity AskDoc, which provides education on health issues. In the past few months she has helped to develop a Covid-19 risk assessment– the Safety Assessment and Decision tool – for BAME patients. She has also produced videos about Covid 19 risk during pregnancy, how to prevent contracting the virus, and social distancing, in 16 different languages.
Dr Griffin is medical director of Milton Keynes Urgent Care Service, responsible for swabbing people who came from Wuhan at the start of the pandemic. He organised the doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants who swabbed guests, and arranged 24/7 cover for the hotel that was housing the quarantined guests. Dr Sarah Whiteman, medical director at Milton Keynes CCG, says: ‘He has gone above and beyond what may have been expected when he took on the role in urgent care services originally.’
This Colchester GP was nominated by patient Yvonne Bathgate, who says: ‘Clair listens. Clair cares. Basic and necessary skills.’ One day, says Mrs Bathgate, ‘she couldn’t get hold of me by telephone about some important medication and after tireless attempts she drove to my house at 9pm! Nothing is too much for this GP, she absolutely deserves this recognition for going above and beyond.’
Dr Guyon was nominated by practice nurse Emma Hunt for her selfless work in a Covid hub. She has been at the Cheltenham hub daily for the past three months, despite having a baby daughter. ‘She has been providing care and reassurance to some very frightened and vulnerable patients. She has always done this with a smile on her face no matter how busy it has been.’
‘Dr Brandon instinctively rallied and coordinated the burgeoning clinical team, leading from the front.’ This is the observation of Dr Brandon’s colleague Dr Thomas Curtis who nominated him for not only coordinating their team’s efforts during the pandemic but also for his work to shore up two struggling surgeries in Suffolk in quick succession, at the end of 2018 and then late 2019.
Dr Lloyd was due to retire on 28 March this year – but swiftly changed his plans when the outbreak took hold. He ‘swung into action to run one of the first Covid hubs in the country, within days’, says Harrow CCG clinical director Dr Radhika Balu, who nominated him. ‘He has been working tirelessly to help patients during this pandemic.’
The Shepley Health Centre in Huddersfield was hit badly by the pandemic, with two-thirds of clinical staff ill with Covid-19 at one point. Amid this, Dr Shaw was working over double hours to ensure the practice could continue running safely – while recovering from Covid-19 himself. Dr Kishan Vadher says: ‘Duncan Shaw has been my clinical supervisor for around eight months. His passion for medicine, dedication to the local community and resolve during the pandemic has been an inspiration and a motivating factor in deciding a career in general practice.’
Dr Gladwinfield was nominated by a number of people, having already established herself as ‘THE beacon of our community’ in Rossendale, Lancashire, before the pandemic through the setting up of a weekly group for mums, and the Rossendale Wellbeing Weekend. Since the pandemic, she has ‘become everyone’s favourite local GP’. Dr Gladwinfield has been posting ‘informative and no nonsense’ videos on Facebook that have been a ‘constant source of reassurance, guidance and positive support for valley residents during lockdown’. She has also developed partnerships with local businesses and retailers to support her wellness initiatives. Emma Litt, a member of the ‘Rossendale Mums Matters’ group, says: ‘She is an inspiration with boundless energy and kindness.’
Dr Haque, a GP who is also a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, has been nominated by fellow academic and GP Dr Jean Philippa Fisher for being a ‘fantastic advocate for widening participation, equality and diversity within the medical school’ as well as his work improving the health of disadvantaged communities in the North West of England.
This Walsall-based GP has single-handedly organised a local fundraising campaign to ensure PPE has been available for frontline NHS staff during the pandemic. He has also been speaking out in the media to raise awareness about PPE shortages. His sister, Dr Kiren Shabir, wants to see him recognised because ‘he has been working tirelessly throughout the week and weekends liaising with suppliers and delivering PPE to A&Es, hot clinics, paramedics, and hospices’ – all on top of his day job.
Dr McColl was nominated by Rylla Baker, chief executive of the Hurley Group partnership, for his involvement developing a hot hub in south London and negotiating an arrangement with black cabs to transport patients between the hub and hospital. ‘Gavin has ensured that colleagues feel supported and patients receive responsive care,’ says Ms Baker.
Dr Johnson, a former GP in Tavistock, Devon, was nominated by a patient who was thankful to him for recognising their B12 deficiency. They say: ‘He took time to explain everything about my thyroid and listened to my past history. If he didn’t know the answer to any of my medical questions he found out.’
Alongside his day-to-day job as a GP, Dr Ali has also been praised for taking part in volunteer work to deliver care packages to NHS staff who have moved away from their families during the coronavirus outbreak. The Manchester GP was nominated by colleagues and also put forward by a patient, who said: ‘He is an exemplary GP. He has also taken time to create a page on social media offering advice on the pandemic and debunking myths.’
London-based GP Dr Samra has been praised for her ‘meticulous planning’ during the pandemic. Her colleague Dr Kosta Manis nominated her after witnessing her volunteer not only to organise her practice’s hot hub, but also work for the borough’s local version too, despite the risk to herself – being of a minority ethnic group. She sourced World Health Organisation-level PPE and trained staff in its use.
Dr Frow, a former GP who has now become a hospital specialist in dermatology, was nominated by nurse Clare Parkinson for being an ‘inspiration’ in the pandemic. Ms Parkinson says: ‘Under pressure she remained cheerful and helpful to all of my nursing team. What a role model and reassurance for us in those first few days of trying to deal with frightened patients. I want to say thank you for being there for us.’
This GP in Southend, Essex, was nominated by patient Shurleea Harding, who credits him for saving her life. ‘Aware of my background and my struggles with everyday life, he would phone me to check on my wellbeing without being asked to do so,’ she says. ‘I have many health problems, but he always gave me choices which made me feel I mattered when it mattered most.’
Dr Saxena was nominated by his GP colleague Dr Sanjeev Saxena for running three clinics while his partners were shielding, including extra clinics on Saturdays to support patients with mental health problems during lockdown. He also arranged gift baskets for all staff. This is despite only becoming a GP last August. Dr Sanjeev Saxena says: ‘During Covid-19 he has shown what a strong leader he is.’
This Loughborough GP’s practice manager wants to see him recognised for ‘his inspired work during the pandemic’. Dr James Coleman has been ensuring care planning for vulnerable patients, providing proactive support for patients with mental ill health, and gave one-to-one end-of-life care for a young family. He is ‘a doctor’s doctor’, says May Lakhani.
Dr McCole, from Primary Care IT, has been working ‘tirelessly’ to develop clinical templates and protocols that were shared with practices during the coronavirus pandemic. The result for practices across the country was reduced stress and increased efficiency in the running of their organisations. ‘He manages to always keep a smile on his face and remain so passionate about his work…what a hero!,’ says colleague Nicola Vlatseas.
Dr Price, a GP in Morecambe, came back from maternity leave just before the pandemic. She immediately got to work, setting up the Covid hub ‘almost overnight on her own’, says colleague Dr Andrew Maddox. ‘She had done all this without any complaint at a time she has experienced huge personal loss in her home life,’ he says. ‘She is without doubt one of the most able, kind, patient-centred GPs I know.’
Not only did Dr Love help to lead the Tessa Jowell GP Surgery in south London during the pandemic, he was also part of the team leading the merger of two surgeries and a move at the same time. Damilola Roachford, a mental health nurse at the practice, says: ‘Jon was caring to staff and patients, finding innovative ways to remotely support patients.’
When Covid-19 hit Birmingham and Solihull, the CCG set up an area-wide drive-in hot hub at the National Exhibition Centre. Dr Holmes soon emerged as a leader, says Dr Fay Wilson, CEO of the Badger out-of-hours co-op. She stepped up as clinical lead, seeing the team through relocation and induction, overseeing everything from PPE to patient surveys and portaloos. She used her sons’ toys to demonstrate patient flows and redesign the pathway to work entirely from portacabins in a car park. ‘Judith doesn’t do politics, management or all that. She’s a natural leader who gets the job done and gives others the credit. She is a true hero of the pandemic,’ says Dr Wilson.
This Stoke GP was praised by a number of patients and staff members at care homes. He was thanked for the care he showed to residents at one of the worst affected care homes in the country, calling seven days a week and being available to them in and out of hours. Claire Waller says: ‘Dr Malik provided home care for my mother in her last days so that she could die at home. During the pandemic he personally visited my son who was dying of cancer. He is an amazing, kind and dedicated doctor who goes above and beyond for his patients. He is loved.’
Dr Florence, a GP in Leicester, has been a great support to colleagues, helping them develop, stepping in to help the out-of-hours service, covering hot clinics and working the difficult and unpopular shifts. Colleague Dr Robert Jay says: ‘She also joined the team at the Nightingale Hospital in London and worked a large number of shifts there which has made her team in the Midlands very proud.’
This sporty GP has been raising the spirits of colleagues and patients in her own time with a series of weekly activity challenges suitable for all levels of fitness in Bridgend, South Wales. A number of GPs say that she has been ‘giving much needed relief from the stress of the day job’, is ‘inspirational in providing leadership’, and has ‘made a huge difference to my lockdown experience’. Dr Rachel McMahon says: ‘She has brought together GPs and other health professionals and given us a connection with others when we were feeling isolated. She has created a genuine team culture, breaking through traditional primary-secondary boundaries.’
Dr McClelland was singled out by colleague Dr Maria Parish for setting up the Covid response locally in Southport, Merseyside and for ‘stepping into the breach to take charge’. Dr Parish says ‘with her at the helm local GPs felt more confident and competent to deal with the threat to services and themselves; she has been an excellent, selfless and patient leader’.
This Worcestershire GP was nominated by patient Mary Forrester for the care given to her husband. Dr Bramble has ‘gone the extra mile’ by regularly checking in. ‘Everyone I speak to says the same about her, she is a dedicated and caring person and we are very fortunate to have her as our GP,’ says Mrs Forrester.
Cannock GP Dr Agrawal pulled together the clinicians and practices necessary to set up the local Covid hot hub ‘within days’ of the call to set up the assessment centre. He sourced local PPE and spent time with staff who hadn’t previously worked outside of their own practices. In the words of his hot hub team at Cannock Chase Clinical Alliance: ‘It’s a lovely place to work in such difficult times . . . we even have a full biscuit box.’
Dr Ikpoh, a GP in Holderness, East Yorkshire, foresaw potential problems involving care homes and in early April set about ensuring that testing was available via an RCGP scheme and instilling confidence in the carers to manage and isolate positive cases. She has also been instrumental in ensuring the implementation of risk assessments for black, Asian and ethnic minority colleagues in her practice and the wider locality, says practice nurse Alyson Johnstone.
Dr Baxter was nominated by his practice manager, Tracy Westhead, for his efforts bringing in digital improvements to their Liverpool surgery. ‘Dr Baxter has been a brilliant resource in terms of all things digital. He has a digital mind and has been the catalyst in the practice in pushing forward,’ she says.
Portfolio GP Dr Brown is a ‘dedicated’ practitioner who is doing ‘excellent work in the black, Asian and minority ethnic community’. Dr Mary Obiamiwe nominated her colleague for her work at the non-profit organisation she co-founded during lockdown to raise awareness about health inequalities for BAME people. Through the BAME Community Health Project Dr Brown has developed culturally appropriate videos explaining chronic diseases and is working on a new project to raise awareness about preventative lifestyle changes.
The patient nominating Dr Poli says this Bury St Edmunds GP is ‘the reason I’m still here fighting today’. The patient has struggled with mental health for several years and Dr Poli has ‘gone above and beyond’ to provide support. They say: ‘He has shouted for what I have needed and listened to me when the mental health team weren’t. Appointment time also doesn’t seem to matter to him, however long it takes, he gets done what he says he is going to.’
These two doctors are both at the beginning of their careers as GPs, but have already made a huge difference to the rural Suffolk practice they have joined in recent months, dealing with the pandemic and also the surgery’s integration with a hospital. Their colleague GP Dr Matt Piccaver says Dr Williams has ‘been a great force for good’ through work such as devising changes to appointments and overseeing the switching of B12 injections to oral versions – noting she only finished her training last spring. Dr Hillier started at the surgery as the pandemic took hold – this being her first job out of training – and has demonstrated ’commitment and enthusiasm’ throughout. Dr Piccaver says of both of them: ‘They are an asset to the profession, the wide team, and more importantly, the patients we serve.’
Dr Rooney’s leadership of Mastercall Healthcare, a social enterprise providing out-of-hospital care in the Stockport area of Greater Manchester, enabled the region to set up hot hub sites for assessing Covid patients. Dr Rooney himself became seriously unwell with the disease – with his sats dropping to 78% at times. His colleagues are grateful for his recovery and say: ‘Undoubtedly without his input the disease would have been worse in Stockport and Trafford.’
Crawley GP Dr Waldron fought off suspected Covid-19 while already being unwell during the pandemic. His colleague Dr Sophie Rowlands praises him for his continued hard work as a GP trainer and programme director and for his work with patients. She says: ‘Mike is a fantastic GP, always thorough with his patients.’
Before the pandemic Dr Smith was already a hero in the eyes of colleagues – bringing about changes to improve patient and staff experiences at his practice in St Albans, Hertfordshire. But as fellow GP Dr Ayan Panja says: ‘It was during the Covid-19 crisis that he showed himself to be a leader of leaders.’ He drew up a major lockdown plan for the practice, shared by thousands on social media, helped others source PPE visors – and has now carved out an ‘unlock’ plan for the surgery, again circulating it with as many GPs as possible. All while working his usual eight sessions. ‘He makes change from the ground up,’ adds Dr Panja.
Daily webinars and community briefings for community centres across the country have been key to Dr Akther’s work during the pandemic. The Essex GP was instrumental in advising a lockdown to faith groups a week ahead of Government advice and has since been advising on plans for safe reopening. ‘Dr Akther has been instrumental in mobilising and safeguarding faith communities. Without his efforts they would have likely seen a significantly higher burden of Covid,’ says fellow GP Dr Salman Waqar.
Dr Bolina was nominated by two patients in Cambridgeshire following a tragic event in their life in which ‘his kindness and compassion was one of the only things that kept us going’. His patients, a husband and wife, sadly lost their daughter, who died by suicide, and their unborn grandson, who was stillborn. Shortly after, the wife was diagnosed with connective tissue disorder during the current Covid-19 crisis. The couple say: ‘Despite the overwhelming demands during the current crisis, Dr Bolina has ensured that we have access to bereavement support and has been a tower of strength to us both – from checking in to make sure we are coping as best as can be expected, to providing a shoulder to cry and a sympathetic ear.’
London GP Dr Basudev has worked hard to really ‘drive’ the improvements to diabetes care across the south of the city during the pandemic, says Dr Andrea Ohletz, a GP at his practice. Practices in the capital have benefited from the guidance he has written on foot care and prioritisation of work during Covid-19.
Tackling staff recruitment and retention problems has been an ongoing struggle in Workington, a deprived area of Cumbria – but local GP Dr McGreevy has led practices through the challenges. The PCN clinical director is highly praised for his mentorship and successful aligning of five practices, plus his navigation of service reconfiguration during the pandemic. He has been at the forefront of creating Covid-safe buildings and sourcing PPE. ‘He is well loved by patients, is level headed and patient with his colleagues,’ says fellow GP Dr Cherryl Timothy-Antoine.
‘He has shown huge leadership skills,’ is the ringing endorsement for London GP Dr Dattani from his peers. Nominated by GP Dr Debbie Frost, who works at his practice, Dr Dattani is recognised for developing algorithms underpinning treatment and protocols for Covid-19, sourcing IT equipment and PPE, and introducing ‘virtual huddles’ every day online for staff to find out about new guidance and discuss patient cases.
This Nottinghamshire GP has been nominated by a patient for making them and their child feel at ease and devoting full attention to their child’s problems. ‘Dr Glover is exemplary with children. He made me and my 20-month year old son feel like nothing else mattered,’ says patient Jezz Lister.
Dr Sanganee, who practises in Leicestershire, has been finding new ways of working to support colleagues during Covid-19. He has supported his PCN, continued to train and mentor GP trainees –while adapting to the new recorded consultation assessment in his work as an MRCGP examiner – and created an enhanced home visiting service. He is nominated by former RCGP chair Dr Mayur Lakhani, who says: ‘He is a shining example of someone who practises what he preaches.’
Alongside work in his Edinburgh practice, Dr Baxter has also ‘worked relentlessly’ during the Covid-19 outbreak in his role as clinical adviser to Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, providing webinars, up-to-date health advice and handling media requests. A colleague at the charity says: ‘His work is not only appreciated by his co-workers but also our supporters.’
Dr Oginni, a GP working in urgent care, used his experience redesigning clinical pathways in his role as a clinical director drawing up the Community Covid Management Service in south-east London. A fellow GP nominated him, saying: ‘He is a forward-thinking and self-motivated leader who comes with a wealth of ideas for his organisation.’
This west London GP is praised by a patient for ‘literally saving my life and my daughter’s life’. The patient had prenatal depression, spotted by Dr Canagir, who ‘sat down, talked and listened to someone who was spiralling out of control’. The patient adds: ‘Without her intervention and support I don’t know where I would be right now.’
This Forth Valley GP stepped up to create and support a new care home assessment and response team for 2,000 care home residents dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks. The team operates seven days a week to help residents who are symptomatic or who test positive for the virus. Dr Baughan ensured anticipatory care plans were up to date and that oxygen access and contingency medicines were available. He has also kept GPs up to date on the impact of Covid-19 on care home residents by holding video calls throughout the peak. ‘He has done so much more, including managing to run a marathon in his back garden for Meningitis Now – with live coverage,’ says Dr Sarah Zacheshigriva, who nominated him.
Patient Emily Edwards credits Lincolnshire GP Dr Cregor for potentially saving her husband’s life by acting quickly to diagnose leukaemia just before the pandemic, and keeping in regular touch since, answering any questions. ‘He has potentially saved my husband’s life enabling him to hopefully see his children grow up.’
Team spirit is key to the way Dr Evans runs his practice in Gateshead. Locum GP Dr Helen Godfrey nominated him for his ability to lead by example – he volunteered for the surgery to help provide hot hub shifts during the pandemic, but put himself forward to provide the cover without asking any of the salaried staff to do so. ‘He is a decent human being who I’m proud to be on the same team with,’ she says.
Dr Love, a Macmillan GP based in Derbyshire, has supported care home teams throughout the pandemic, developing comprehensive palliative care support for the county. Her Derbyshire LMC colleague, Dr Susie Bayley, who nominated her, says: ‘Pauline has selflessly committed countless hours to support our most vulnerable patients and their carers throughout the pandemic.’
Leeds GP Dr Matharu has supported her team during the pandemic in particularly testing circumstances. Following the departure of a GP colleague from her practice, she picked up the extra shifts – and continued to support her practice nursing team and healthcare assistant. ‘She has taken all pandemic situations as a challenge and helped staff get through,’ says her practice manager.
Dr Forgan has been supporting GPs at all levels during the past few months – from her work as a partner at a south London practice, to her duties as clinical director of North Lewisham PCN. She ensured shielded patients at the practice were supported, set up a ‘cold’ hub for the PCN to use for non-Covid patients – while also evaluating the impact of total triage on disadvantaged patients – and with colleagues across the borough set up a ‘hot’ hub for Covid cases. ‘Rachel’s efforts have been heroic and inspirational,’ says her colleague Dr Syed Ishaq Husain.
This Sheffield GP has had to find ways of adapting a specialist GP service caring for asylum seekers and refugees that she works in, to cope with the pandemic. Dr Kemp set up new processes, ensuring multi-language guidance was available to keep patients and third sector support workers safe from the virus. When transportation services for patients started declining to take patients, Dr Kemp ensured a new service was commissioned. She has worked ‘relentlessly’ to ensure this group of patients can still access primary care, says Dr Lucy Cormack, clinical director at Primary Care Sheffield.
Dr Kanwar ‘always put others’ needs ahead of himself’ and has tackled the challenges of the pandemic head-on. The Warwickshire GP has worked in ‘hot’ clinics with suspected Covid patients, carried out on-call emergency work at the local hospital, provided public health advice online – all while keeping up with his core practice work. ‘Raj continues to go above and beyond every day in these unprecedented times,’ says Tracy East, who nominated him.
Lincolnshire-based Dr Mitchell made one of her patients feel she was ‘the one doctor truly taking me seriously’ after they became unwell during the pandemic. ‘She took the time to see exactly what was wrong and took time with me one on one – she didn’t just put it down to Covid,’ says the patient, adding: ‘Without her I honestly would have gone mad.’
Dr Joshi recognised many of her patients were very concerned about how the pandemic would affect their long-term health conditions. The Berkshire GP set to developing a series of virtual group consultations for the PCN on conditions ranging from asthma and anxiety to children’s mental health and postnatal session for parents, involving other practitioners such as a mental health therapist, health visitor, social prescriber and health coach. ‘With her imagination, energy and innovation she has been a real hero to her patients,’ says colleague Dr Susan Eggleton.
At his own practice in Manchester, Dr Shahid has been working to provide safe care during the virus outbreak, but alongside that he has also been spreading awareness of the disease more widely. He has delivered weekly broadcasts on social media highlighting updates on the virus, worked with Asian radio shows to promote good health and established an advice phone line with the help of 30 UK doctors for patients in Pakistan. Dr Ambreen Fazalm, who works with him at the practice, nominated him because of his ‘continued efforts in educating the community and providing exceptional care during the pandemic’.
East London GPs are indebted to Dr Kumar thanks to the GP federation he helped to set up in Waltham Forest in 2014, which has been key to the local Covid-19 response. He takes on ‘exceptional and additional workload’ by meeting with practices, leading Forest 8 PCN and as clinical director ensuring the provision of quality services for patients, says a colleague.
Dr Harwood’s Riverside Medical Practice in Shrewsbury had to be evacuated early in 2020 due to serious flooding and the team only just returned at the outset of the pandemic. Yet she has remained ‘indefatigably upbeat’ despite having to move to new premises, on top of leading the local Covid assessment centre. ‘She is an amazing, thoughtful, kind, supportive GP,’ says fellow GP Dr Helen Willows.
‘Supportive’ is mentioned several times in the many words of praise for Dr Todd from fellow GPs. During the pandemic she was ‘instrumental’ in setting up a North Derbyshire GPs Covid Whatsapp group to share guidelines and information, and also drew up IT protocols for remote working. ‘Sarah worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of her colleagues and patients at our surgery and throughout Derbyshire,’ says her colleague Dr Sudeep Chawla.
Dr Kalwij responded to the pandemic by converting a large community centre into a ‘hot’ clinic for practices across south London’s Lewisham borough to refer into. He also led the development of a ‘cold clinic’, plus the rollout of antibody testing in north Lewisham, and helped set up a blood testing centre and two community services to relieve pressure on the hospital – one on pain management and another for dermatology patients. ‘He has achieved all this through extreme hard work, clinical excellence and a pragmatic approach to collaboration,’ says Edmund Glynn, who works with Dr Kalwij in their local GP federation.
Dr Grumbridge was quick to open a Covid assessment centre in Oldham, sharing her learning with Greater Manchester colleagues. Despite catching the virus from her frontline work she carried on working remotely throughout. ‘Oldham have had many heroes amongst the GP family but much of the early pace was set by Shelley,’ says colleague Dr John Patterson, from a nearby practice.
Having led 15 local PCNs and 77 GP practices through significant change over the last two years, Birmingham GP Dr Butler already had the confidence of his peers. It was good training for the coronavirus outbreak during which he worked with 17 PCN directors to move from 105 practices offering face-to-face consults, down to 25. ‘We would all be lost without his leadership,’ says NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG’s primary care commissioning team, who nominated him.
Watford GP Dr Hodes – described as ‘selfless’ and ‘tireless’ – helped to set up a nationwide group of more than 800 GP volunteers without hesitation when the virus broke, in a bid to support the NHS 111 service and ambulance service. The ‘TeamGPvCOVID’ group provides guidance and advice to emergency and 111 call handers. ‘The mobilisation and esprit de corps that Simon was able to achieve was remarkable…the efforts ensured services were properly staffed with GP volunteers,’ says Dr Kit Latham, just one of the colleagues who nominated him.
Dr Royal has ‘worked tirelessly’ to ensure GPs are part of the effort to find a vaccine for Covid-19, says his colleague Daniel Hammersley, chief operating officer at The University of Nottingham Health Service GP practice. He has developed a network of local practices to help with primary care studies looking at the disease – and also secured a place on the University of Oxford’s vaccine trial, making the university’s surgery the only GP practice to be a trial site. His practice has now signed up around 500 participants. ‘This has been a phenomenal effort from all involved, led by Simon, proving that primary care are very capable of supporting large scale trials which are normally the preserve of specialist departments or hospital trusts,’ says Daniel.
This GP from Stockport, Greater Manchester has been organising PPE and goody bags for NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic. She is also a big fundraiser, having secured £10,000 for ovarian cancer research last year and also worked with charity Campaign Against Living Miserably. Dr Brennan also ‘works tirelessly in her LMC role’ as honorary secretary in Salford, says fellow GP Dr Alison Johnston.
Through collaboration with community engagement group Bradford4Better Dr Ahmed has been coordinating support for vulnerable people during the pandemic in West Yorkshire. That’s on top of developing a Covid-19 response team – and creating education materials to raise awareness about the outbreak through his media company Aelixir. ‘This content has been instrumental in getting information – in different languages – to many people in communities who would not usually have access to such information,’ says Saima Khan, a trainee advanced clinical practitioner who works with Dr Ahmed.
This Devon GP who is a partner at a 43,000-patient practice stepped up as the lead for the surgery’s Covid-19 strategy, providing support and up-to-date guidance and video briefings for staff and patients. Added to his CCG role leading the primary care strategy and working extended access hours, he has been doing 12-session weeks to ensure GP cover. ‘He never complains about the workload and just takes it all in his stride’ says GP colleague Dr Andrew Mercer.
Dr Singh, who practises in Birmingham, has worked hard to help black, Asian and minority ethnic patients understand the risk of Covid-19. He has gone on national TV to explain guidelines, while also setting up protocols and infection prevention measures for gurdwaras. These protocols have been widely shared – being adapted by the Sikh Council UK. Dr Singh has been ‘instrumental’ in sharing information to BAME communities, says fellow GP Dr Sukhpal Singh Gill, president of the Sikh Doctors and Dentists Association UK.
Practice manager Kim Whitehead says Dr Thullimalli ‘single-handedly kept our surgery above water’ when the pandemic hit and two other GP colleagues at his South Yorkshire practice later fell ill with Covid-19. He took over as acting PCN director, put an urgent action plan together, provided all the duty on-calls and more – while also keeping the team’s morale high.
In the words of one of his patients, in the past year Dr Baker has provided them with ‘excellent’ care for a condition that is not well understood, difficult to treat, and often stigmatised. ‘Dr Baker’s open, friendly, attentive, and patient attitude has enabled me to remain engaged with GP support for the first time,’ they say, also praising the Nottinghamshire GP for ongoing phone support during the pandemic, helping them to feel less alone. ‘I am also impressed by his positive attitude in the face of challenging circumstances. This has inspired me to strive to be more positive myself.’
This Leicestershire GP took over the running of his two-partner practice at the start of the pandemic when it was clear his older senior partner – in his 70s – was at higher risk and should shield. Dr Cheesman has been nominated by Dr Leena Jones, a locum GP who works regularly at the surgery, who praised him for ‘a high level of selflessness’ throughout, as he took over home visits and managed the operational changes at the practice.
This Milton Keynes GP has been nominated by many patients for her ability to ‘always give the best advice’ and for being a ‘caring and special GP’ who ‘goes the extra mile’. Dr Withanage’s colleague, practice manager Emma Jacobs, also described her as ‘an amazing leader for staff during the pandemic’.
Dr Yasmin Razak recognised early on that technology, PPE and new systems would be required to deal with the pandemic – so she set up a plan and then stepped up in a PCN leadership role to provide west London PCNs with daily proposals on how to support practices. ‘Staff noted that they had never seen anyone move so fast,’ says Dr Sharon Raymond, who also praises her for ‘working tirelessly’.
Dr Chauhan has ‘worked tirelessly’ from Medlock Medical Practice, working out-of-hours shifts on top of remote consultations, and speaking with the media to help answer questions from the local community. He has also been ‘intrinsic’ in setting up Manchester’s Covid related death service, says Jayne Livesey, a practice colleague who nominated him.
This Surrey GP was nominated by a number of GPs for his ‘optimism and pragmatism in spades’. He has been supporting practices across the UK, started printing 3D visors and set up hot hubs with such innovation that GPs in Wales and Australia got in touch with him for advice. ‘His decisive leadership, caring manner and protection of his team made everyone feel safe throughout. No-one deserves this accolade more,’ says Dr Elisabeth Galloway. ‘An absolute legend,’ says Dr Mike Smith.
Dr Sen Mukherjee has been providing free occupational health advice to primary care colleagues throughout the pandemic. The Bromley-based portfolio GP set up a wellbeing service for healthcare professionals at the local Princess Royal University Hospital, which includes coaching and online workshops to develop coping mechanisms for working in difficult circumstances. ‘She has worked tirelessly and voluntarily to support frontline healthcare workers through her work in the wellbeing sphere,’ says colleague GP trainee Dr Sarah-Jane Lang, who nominated her.