Adapted from BMJ 26 January 19, Five minutes with Sam Everington, by Susan Major
Sam Everington worked as a lawyer before re-training as a GP. He is now the chair of Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, has served on the Kings Fund, and gained a knighthood.
Tower Hamlets is a very deprived area in east London, despite this they have achieved the best rates of blood pressure control and cholesterol in patients with type two diabetes.
Sam puts this down to a much closer involvement by the hospital diabetes consultant with patients directly in the community instead of the hospital ivory towers which is traditional in the UK.
By mainly giving telephone advice to local GPs and pharmacists, he was able to give quick decisions on optimal treatment.
Sam says, “Diabetes is a complex disease, so you have to have a comprehensive approach, using everything you can to improve lifestyle and motivate patients by focussing on what is important to them. It is key to have a care plan that is individualised to each patient, systematically going through with a nurse and creating the plan in partnership with them.
“If you accept that social factors are responsible for 70% of a person’s health and wellbeing, then there is a big gap in primary care. If we don’t tackle social factors, we are really only having access to 30% of the therapies that we really need. Therefore we have introduced social prescribing in every practice in Tower Hamlets.
“We use a referral form, ticking boxes on lifestyle, environment, social and mental health. Patients then see the social prescribing advisor and talk through what will motivate them. They are then connected to one or more of 1,500 voluntary sector organisations in Tower Hamlets.
“We also encourage patients to access their own notes so they can see their results and take control. All the evidence shows that when patients manage their own illness the outcomes are better. All our patients are offered a half or whole day diabetes education workshop.”
My comment: Well done Sam. A great example of joined up thinking being adequately resourced to achieve great results.