The ‘GP on Call’ initiative, established by the Wessex RCGP faculty in partnership with charity Cycle of Good, encourages practices to purchase a bike for doctors to share.
The scheme offers repurposed former postal service bikes - repainted in RCGP blue and fitted with a tray to carry a medical bag - at half price to members of the Wessex faculty. Along with improving GPs' health and wellbeing, the scheme aims to encourage local communities to become more active and to make GPs more visible locally.
Founder of the scheme, local GP Dr Jonathan Rial, who is also the Wessex faculty treasurer, said: ‘I came up with the idea this summer as I was using my bike a lot outside of work.
‘I had also used bikes on city breaks and thought it would be a great idea to have a bike the whole practice could use to do visits, allowing us to get some fresh air and be more visible to the community.’
Since the scheme began a few months ago, Dr Rial says the faculty has sold a handful of bikes, and seen a ‘huge amount of interest’ in the idea, which has been nominated for an RCGP award.
‘Getting out on a bike helps with fitness, but also helps the mind during a busy working day,' he said. 'It makes the visits more pleasurable and the patients have shown a lot of interest - they have certainly noticed us being out and about.'
Through the Cycle for Good scheme, inmates at UK prisons help to repair and recycle the bikes and are offered the chance to complete a degree in bike maintainance. It is hoped that the qualification helps them to gain future employment - a key factor in preventing repeat offences.
Meanwhile, for every bike bought through the scheme, another is sent to Malawi where a team at The African Workshop, which employs 8 local people, repairs and services the donated bikes, ready for sale.