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Outstanding Contribution ​to Primary Care award winner

Dr Vikesh Sharma, GP at Grantham Practice

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​Dr Sharma leads the Local Care Network community engagement project aiming, through collaborative working, to improve and overcome health inequalities for the Portuguese-speaking population in Lambeth. Public Health data for North Lambeth identified that after English, Portuguese was the second highest spoken language in the locality. The aim is to understand and break down cultural and language barriers. A key outcome is to devise a ‘template’ of engagement, education and support that could be used for any specific patient / resident group.  

Dr Sharma set up and led a group, to manage and implement the project aims. He led three sets of structured interviews with Portuguese speaking patients, focussing on patient experience, and their knowledge and understanding of NHS and social support available in the borough. A questionnaire was designed and disseminated across Lambeth through local cafes, bars, GP surgeries and churches attended by these citizens. 

Key emerging themes include gaps in understanding, lower usage of primary care and higher usage of NHS urgent care services, including A&E; high usage of private (non-NHS) Portuguese health clinics and attendance at health facilities in Portugal. Community concerns about mental health, substance/ alcohol misuse, domestic violence and maternal health were also identified.

Activities over the last 18 months to engage and educate have been wide-ranging:

  • The equivalent body in Portugal to the Royal College of General Practice UK, has given permission for Lambeth GPs to use hundreds of their specific self-education patient leaflets in Portuguese. They are available on DXS for GPs to give to their patients.
  • Educational sessions on multiple health topics are run in Portuguese at the Portuguese-Speaking Community Centre, involving a Portuguese-speaking local GP.
  • Yellow Man campaign posters advising patients on appropriate use of health care services and the 111 service, translated by a GP based in Portugal, are widely displayed in the community. 
  • Welcome packs for patients new to the NHS, including information on how to register with a GP, NHS screening services, community  pharmacy services
  • Transfer of Care document produced for patients to write health concerns in Portuguese and get translated to English before registering.
  • A collaboration with Lambeth schools to engage children with Primary Care services

This project has demonstrated increased GP registration from Portuguese residents. Feedback from patients and residents from the education sessions, via the community centre and other stakeholders, has been very encouraging and positive.  

“Dr Sharma’s personal contribution in terms of leadership, countless hours of working in his own time, engagement with stakeholders here and in Portugal has been inspirational.”​
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