Dr Gabriel T Hendow was recently crowned GP of the Year at the prestigious General Practice Awards, for his unique approach to holistic care that led him to be the only single-handed GP to receive an overall ‘outstanding’ award by the CQC, in 2016. Read how he won the admiration of colleagues and patients alike.
Profile: Dr Gabriel T Hendow
What’s your role? Single-handed GP principal at the Bransholme Health Centre in Hull
How long have you been a GP? Since 1992. I trained as a general surgeon in Iraq and moved to the UK in December 1977, training as an orthopaedic surgeon before choosing a career in general practice at the age of 45.
How would you describe your practice? It’s a family-run practice serving 2,709 patients in a deprived urban area, with strong values based on holistic, patient-centred care.
What gets you up in the morning? My body clock – at 6.30 am every day. But whilst getting ready for work my mind is racing away thinking about what I will be doing that day and how to further improve patient care in my practice.
What challenges does the practice face?
The health centre is in a deprived area of Hull, serving the largest council estate in Europe. We care for a population with high rates of unemployment, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, teenage pregnancies, smoking and chronic illnesses. I took over as principal 26 years ago and worked hard to change the culture from that of a regular GP practice to a family practice with strong morals and values.
What did you do?
I set out with the help of my staff to offer holistic care, in particular to help patients address health problems that were often rooted in difficult social circumstances.
We established a ‘food clinic’, the first of its kind in a GP surgery, offering free cookery classes, run by a local chef, to help patients ditch the take-aways and learn how to cook nutritious home-made dishes using locally sourced, fresh produce. This was followed by exercise and dance classes, where patients can come and get their bodies moving at a pace that suits them.
We run a gout clinic, smoking cessation and drug and alcohol services and breast screening awareness, retinal screening and teenage health clinics – all services that we provide in-house at the health centre. We have also set up an in-house ‘121’ service for people with anxiety and depression, to help them get through crises and avoid taking antidepressants long term. The service focuses on motivational interviewing to help patients regain self-belief and their capacity to change their circumstances and take control of their mental wellbeing.
I’m an accredited minor surgery provider for the local area and run a ‘one-stop minor surgery’ clinic every week, for arthritis patients with joint pain and mobility problems.
This year we also launched a voluntary home monitoring service, ‘HMS Hull’, for our frail, vulnerable and housebound patients, which helps us to identify people who may need extra support with daily living or palliative services.
How have patients benefited?
We know from developing relationships with our patients, as well as through formal audit and QOF, that they have benefited from adopting healthier lifestyles. We have seen many patients lose weight and get their cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control, reporting they feel healthier and happier. Patients say they find it less intimidating to join our exercise groups than go to the gym, and they form friendship groups through the classes.
By retaining clinics such as smoking cessation, drugs and alcohol and retinal screening services in house, patients can access these in a familiar setting where they feel more comfortable and invested in follow-up as part of their overall care.
As part of gaining our overall ‘outstanding’ rating, the CQC was especially impressed with our teenage health clinic and how this has helped to improve our younger patients’ knowledge and confidence with contraception – we now have zero unwanted teenage pregnancies.
Our minor surgery service was rated ‘excellent’ by patients in a recent audit, and we received a top patient rating in a recent comparison of local GP surgeries run by the local paper. We have registered more than 370 new patients over the past two years, in part due to our NHS Choices top ratings and reviews.
How has the approach helped the practice thrive?
The key to success as a singlehanded GP has been to always involve my team and the patients in this holistic approach, where we strive to manage complicated illnesses so that a prescription is not always necessary.
I believe as a doctor you never stop learning. Here, every day is a new challenge that keeps me energised and inspired to continue my role as a family doctor.
What colleagues say
Tina Cheyne, practice manager: ‘I joined Dr Hendow’s practice in 2009 and can truly say that I have never looked back. We have a real sense of camaraderie, meeting every day and truly working as a team for the benefit of our patients.
‘Dr Hendow is always looking for new and inventive ways to promote health in a more holistic way; he believes in empowering patients to take control of their own destiny. We believe we work as a traditional family practice and this is reflected in the responses we receive through patient surveys.’
Matt Leathwood, clinical mental health practitioner: ‘Dr Hendow has an eye for quality and innovation. Without Dr Hendow’s vision and support the 121 service would not be achieving such great results.
‘It takes someone with a passion for inventive solutions to provide this kind of bespoke solution. The provision of a service based on genuine quality in an environment where quantity can be an overbearing outcome measure has enabled the 121 service to flourish and achieve its aim of unlocking individual patient potential to change.’