How did you become involved in fundraising for Action on Hearing Loss?
When I had to consider charities to support during the London Marathon, Action on Hearing loss was an obvious choice as I have a profoundly deaf older sister and have signed from a very young age. I have witnessed first hand the difficulties and discrimination my sister has had to overcome in her life.
How is your training going?
My training is going well. I am fortunate in that my base level of fitness is decent from triathlon training but I have never done a marathon before.
My half-marathon time is 1 hour 57 minutes. Using that estimate, my time would be somewhere around 4 hours 15 minutes but I would dearly love to come in under 4 hours. I think this will depend on not missing runs and remaining injury free!
I am both nervous and excited. I have never been a keen runner. I was an unfit, heavy (18 stone) GP until summer 2013 when I took action to get fitter.
Now I am fit and a confident runner and have done long swims, cycles and have run some half-marathons.
How has your personal experience of hearing loss impacted on you as a GP?
I learned to sign as a toddler and developed this skill throughout my life I eventually gained some formal BSL qualifications and I also consult with patients in sign language which is a valuable tool.
The hard of hearing community can face difficulty in accessing good quality healthcare and my ability to sign eases this for them.
What other activities have you been involved with to support Action on Hearing Loss?
I have been publicising my training for the London Marathon on social media and in the practice. We are holding a charity raffle in the practice and also a coffee morning and we will be running an awareness day on hearing loss. Our practice manager has been liaising with Action on Hearing Loss to start quarterly drop in clinics to provide support for those with hearing loss.
Are there any simple steps that GPs can take in consultations with patients who are hard of hearing?
Yes, it is important to speak slowly and clearly in consultations with patients with hearing loss, and it’s worth considering having some writing aids in the consulting room.
I have found that images and diagrams are particularly useful when explaining concepts to patients with hearing loss. But most GPs are excellent at communication and I am sure are well aware of all the above.
Is there anything practices can do more generally to support patients with hearing loss?
In our practice we have tried to make optimal use of technology for booking appointments, bulletins and information, requesting prescriptions, text alerts among other things.
We try to allow longer appointments for our patients with hearing loss if appropriate. Naturally, email and fax access is also useful. Some GPs might even consider learning BSL. One day, I might even start doing video consulting in sign language.
Why did you become a GP?
I became a GP because, all things considered, it is still one of the best jobs anywhere in the world – we get to know our patients, apply our vast skill sets to help them, work with great teams and colleagues, we are constantly teaching and learning and inspiring, we are respected and valued.
I have been a partner for almost four years at Haddenham Medical Centre in Buckinghamshire. I really enjoy working here and many patients say they are inspired by my fitness. They inspire me too.