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Dr Charlotte Benjamin

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dr benjamin local heroes 2016 3×2

Dr Benjamin’s fight to transform mental health services in her north London borough has won her recognition. As clinical lead for mental health and learning disabilities at NHS Barnet CCG, she established the Reimagining Mental Health project and fought for funding to transform mental health services into a ‘more reactive, kinder system, delivered at the right time in the right place’, and more focused on patients, she says.

She came up with the innovative idea of six-weekly ‘breakfast clubs’ across the borough, at which patients could discuss what mental health services should look like. The result was clear: ‘Patients wanted to be treated as citizens, focusing on their strengths, in order to make improvements and live a happier life,’ she says.  

Dr Benjamin also works to support her peers, initiating a lunchtime walking group for local GPs for ‘a walk and destress’. She also initiated a pilot across 15 GP practices in Barnet to give GPs enhanced training for managing patients with medically unexplained symptoms. This has increased the GPs’ confidence in this area, and has even reduced consultations and referrals by a statistically significant amount.

Dr Benjamin says she only wishes that, before becoming a GP, she had known ‘how diverse and enjoyable it would be’ so she could have encouraged more of her colleagues in hospital to ‘see the light and become GPs.’ Her aim for the next year? ‘I hope to see the rollout of the Barnet mental health collaborative, and with good patient and GP feedback, achieve better outcomes for our patients with mental health problems. I hope our email inbox will have some positive feedback, rather than complaints about the mental health system.’

What others say about her ‘She has achieved amazing results at a time of huge problems at the CCG, both in financial and executive leadership terms.’ ‘This recognition is a wonderful tribute to Charlotte’s hard work and championing of patients with Mental Health problems.’

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