A Fareham receptionist has received national recognition for helping to change patients’ lives at her GP practice.
Vicki Rowe-Shawyer, who works at the Highlands Practice, has been short-listed for the ‘Extended Practice Team Member’ category in the 2019 General Practice Awards.
Practice manager Amanda Gray said Vicki had shown “true leadership through inspiring others by her own actions” by her support of the practice’s fitness initiatives to help patients lead healthier lives.
She added: “Vicki has turned her own life around and has applied her time and energy to help others to do the same.”
In February 2018, Vicki had a high BMI (Body Mass Index) and, because of an injury, was unable to walk for more than ten minutes at a time. After challenging herself to do a charity walk and recovering from her injury, she took up a weekly ‘park run’ as part of her training.
After initialling walking five kilometres in just under an hour, she now runs the distance in 35 minutes.
As she benefited from her more active lifestyle, Vicki also focused on her weight loss and introduced the practice to her Weight Watchers (WW) leader. The practice started a WW group and now has around 140 members – with the group losing a combined 283 stone in the first nine months.
The WW group now has an active contingent participating in a weekly Parkrun. Vicki volunteers at both events and has also motivated colleagues at the practice – 16 of whom regularly run in Highlands running kit.
The WW group meets weekly at the practice and has expanded to a second session earlier in the day to accommodate the number of members and give patients greater choice when they participate.
Dr Donal Collins, a GP Partner at Highlands, said: “Vicki has truly inspired colleagues at the practice as well as patients to get fitter and lead healthier lives. Some 12% of all our patients with a BMI of over 30 have joined the group and are actively losing weight and meeting their targets.
“Four to six new GP referrals are made each week, building on the initial success of the group. Vicki organised a GP to attend the WW session quarterly to offer the opportunity for a blood pressure check to help track changes in people’s overall health.
“She has got GPs involved in the Parkruns and has worked with one GP to set up a health and wellbeing stall to inform runners of all the opportunities for support and lifestyle changes which are available to them.
“Clearly enabling patients to take control of their own health is one of the most powerful tools that we have and Vicki is inspiring others to act, just as she has done herself. Furthermore, she has started training as a healthcare assistant specialising in prevention and lifestyle so that she can further help patients by monitoring key health indicators such as blood pressure.
“She has signed up for a half-marathon this month to raise money for breast cancer – a disease which has affected one of our colleagues this year.
“She is improving the wellbeing and resilience of the practice team and helping to transform the lives of many of our patients. It’s a remarkable effort which is so deserving of her nomination for this national award.”
Vicki completed the Royal Parks Half-Marathon in London this weekend in just under the target time of two hours and 45 minutes which she set herself , helping to so far raise around £850.
She said: “Such an amazing atmosphere and it was great to have the support of Dr (Jill) Choudhury running with me. “