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‘The NHS thrives on new ideas; they are needed for us all to progress’


By Nora Elias
7 May 2019

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The annual General Practice Awards – organised by Healthcare Leader publisher Cogora – recognises achievement, initiative and service excellence across primary care.

With just under a month remaining to submit entries for the 2019 awards – which remain open until 31 May, we continue our series of profiling the 2018 awards winners.

The Mount View Primary Mental Health Team, which works across a number of GP practices in Fleetwood as part of a primary care home structure, last year won the Respiratory Care Award for its initiative to create workshops for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Here, mental health practitioner and clinical team leader Alison Halliwell highlights the reason behind and benefits of the initiative, which focuses on recognising and combating the negative psychological side-effects a long-term condition such as COPD can have on patients.

Q How does the Mount View Primary Mental Health Team feel about winning this award?

The whole team is thrilled that we won the award. Everyone is highly motivated and passionate about mental health care, and to see our work recognised in this way is a real morale booster.

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

I think they recognised that we were thinking outside the box and showing true integrated working between physical and mental healthcare. Boosting a person’s mental attitude can have a major positive effect on the individual’s physical health, in this case their COPD.

Q Could you give a brief overview of the COPD resilience workshops?

We delivered compassionate CBT-based interventions in a group format. Included in this were mindfulness and meditation techniques, as well as education around managing anxiety and a focus on improving a person’s self-esteem – for example through involvement in community activities.

Q  Were there any particular challenges you had to overcome?

We were fortunate to already have staff who could deliver group activities and a venue where they could be held. I feel the biggest hurdle was getting patients to attend, as there were initially a lot of misconceptions. Some patients had concerns about it being primarily about their mental health, while others thought we were a smoking cessation service.

Q  Do we need more awards like the General Practice Awards, recognising achievement and innovation in the NHS?

I think it’s really good that we have these kind of awards as they offer a great opportunity to promote good practice and spread ideas that can be replicated in other areas. The NHS thrives on new ideas; they are needed for us all to progress.

Q How are the COPD resilience workshops helping to drive change in mental health care?

I think an initiative like this helps the integration between physical and mental health and promotes holistic health care. Mental health should not be looked at in isolation, especially as the promotion of mental health interventions can have a positive effect on patients with long-term conditions.

Q What are the next steps for the project?

We have already expanded the resilience workshops to include all long-term conditions, which means they are now also offered to patients with diabetes, chronic pain, fibromyalgia and cancer, among others.

Q How would you define great leadership?

Being passionate, knowledgeable, a good listener and a good motivator. Someone who is able to lead from the front while still acknowledging other and different opinions and being prepared to adapt their ideas.

Q Which are the most pressing issues currently facing mental health?

Mental health is facing unprecedented pressures at the moment, with a squeeze on finances while there is also a surge in demand. This is to an extent because people are now much more aware of mental health and more prepared to talk about it, which is a good thing.

There are also more social pressures, particularly on younger generations, and with diminishing resources, this growing demand means longer waiting lists. Mental health services are having to constantly look at new ways to deal with this.

Q  What is the future of mental health services?

I feel mental health services need to embrace integrated working much more; to work less in silos and more as part of the primary care team. I also think interventions should be provided as locally as possible for the patient.

The 2019 General Practice Awards will be held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel in London. For information about the event, including how to enter, see www.generalpracticeawards.com

Entries for the 2019 General Practice Awards close on 31 May.

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