I have been working as a GP at HMP/YOI Doncaster for just under a year and have not looked back! I was what you would deem a “standard GP” in the community prior to this. I think we can all agree that our working lives changed considerably when the COVID pandemic hit. Most of my day was spent dealing with an ever increasing list of patients requesting a call back with little prioritisation. I needed a change. I wanted a fresh take on how best to use my knowledge and my passion for patient care. After a couple of calls with Practice Plus Group’s enthusiastic National Clinical Director Dr Iain Brew, I was hooked with the idea of working in prison medicine.
I now drive to work happy and I drive home from work happy. I feel valued as a member of an extremely experienced multidisciplinary team with myself and another GP splitting the week between us along with our ANPs. We have a psychiatrist and mental health team as well as a substance misuse team who work separate but closely with Primary Care. The bulk of the day to day operations and demand within healthcare and the prison wings is made up of experienced nurses and HCAs. This then leaves me with pre-booked appointments that have been triaged appropriately to have their more complex problems dealt with. The patients are brought in groups to healthcare throughout my session, allowing me to be very flexible with my time given per case. If a complex patient needs more time, they get it. As you can imagine, this is the nirvana for a GP wanting to put the patient and their needs first.
There is a huge age range of patients at HMP Doncaster from young offenders, to the elderly residing in our social care unit. Often due to their chaotic lifestyles prior to prison, many of our patients have had little or no access to healthcare. This allows a perfect opportunity to screen for chronic disease, including blood born viruses, thus improving our patients’ life chances. It has long been documented that through engaging more with health and social care, prisoners greatly reduce their chances of reoffending. Being able to play a part in this, as you can imagine, is a real privilege.
From a personal point of view, becoming a GP in prison medicine with Practice Plus Group has allowed me to achieve that perfect work life balance. I now bring the same life loving person from outside of work through the prison gatehouse!