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by Angela Sharda
18 March 2019

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‘I am very proud of our relationship with secondary care colleagues’

The winners of the General Practice Awards 2018 were revealed at an awards ceremony on Friday, 30 November at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London hotel.

The awards celebrated their 10th anniversary last year and recognised the hard work and innovation of general practice teams and individuals.

The Women’s Health Initiative of the Year award went to Shere Surgery.

Deputy editor Angela Sharda speaks to Dr Helen Barnes from Shere Surgery and Dispensary winner of the Women’s Health Innovation Team.

This practice includes three GPs with a special interest in women’s health who run a one-stop service for women with gynaecological conditions that fall outside the remit of their usual GP but does not require consultant-led treatment.

How do you feel about winning this award?

Winning this award is a huge achievement. I am very proud of the service we have developed and the award certainly feels like recognition for all the hard work we have put in over the past five years of planning and running the project. 

Why do you think the judges picked you as the winner?

The community gynaecology service is a true primary care initiative. It was conceived and developed in primary care and continues to be led by and delivered within primary care.

We have worked incredibly hard to achieve successful integration with our local acute trust, and the support we have from our secondary care colleagues has enabled us to deliver innovative and outstanding care to patients.

Not only is this an integrated primary care-led service, we have also changed it in order to respond to local need – such as cuts to the sexual and reproductive health provision – which has involved training and commitment to ensure the needs of our local population are met. 

How did you overcome any challenges that you were presented with on this intiative?

I and the other members of the team (Dr Charlotte Knight and Mrs Cathryn Bovingdon) have all been determined to make the initiative a success. We spent a huge amount of time in discussions with and building relationships with the acute trust. Without their support this would be a very different service, both from a clinical and governance perspective.

We have had support from other stake-holders including our local GP practices, our CCG, our GP federation and our LMC. I think in many ways it was such broad communication, combined with determination, that overcame the challenges.  

Do you think we need more awards to recognise achievement in the NHS?

I think the General Practice Awards are a great opportunity to give recognition and publicity to practices, GPs and initiatives such as ours. This recognition is very important, especially in today’s climate. More awards would offer greater opportunity for recognition. 

What would you say motivates you?

I am motivated by the desire to give great patient care and to innovate and evolve services for patients – which improve their experience and their access to care. I am also motivated by the feedback that I get from patients and colleagues. It has been such a joy to set up and deliver this service.

I am very passionate about Women’s Health, and having a positive effect on the lives of our patients is compelling. 

How are you leading change in primary care?

Initially by recognising when care can be delivered differently, by improving access (such as community based services) or by providing innovative new models of working (such as one stop clinics). Then by setting out to make that change with a team around me that is motivated by innovation and patient care. I am very fortunate to be part of such a team.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your work?

I am very proud of the relationship we have built with our secondary care colleagues, which has enabled us to continue the service and gain the contract we currently have.

What do you think constitutes great leadership?

I think there are many different qualities which constitute great leadership, and indeed many different styles of leadership. My style of leadership is one of motivation, openess, and clear communication. I think being able to see the potential in others, and the potential in opportunities, is also vital. 

What does the NHS most needs from its leaders at the moment?

I think we need leaders who have the drive to see the NHS succeed. Leaders who are honest about what we can and cannot achieve and who recognise the reality of the current resources.

We need  transparency and clear communication, and we need commitment to ensuring the future of primary care. 

Will the NHS long-term plan benefit NHS leaders achieve goals?

I suppose that depends on what their goals are. I hope the development of primary care networks, and the promise of increased funding for primary care (as set out in the long-term plan), will enable stability and innovation within primary care.

Clearly, however, this is a very new model and many relationships are in their infancy so good leadership and clear direction will be essential. 

What changes would you like to see in the primary care sector?

Greater funding, greater equity of services, greater opportunity for innovation and greater stability.

Nominations for the General Practice Awards 2019 will open on 1st April. Visit for more information