Column: New faces doing well at helping others

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Doncaster as a place is on the up, so it’s always pleasing to hear about local people who are doing well in their chosen fields.

As a Bentley GP and Chair of the Clinical Commissioning Group, I’m particularly interested in local health care, as you would expect. The NHS and other health and social care related organisations employ thousands of people in Doncaster, so there are great career opportunities for local young people who want to get on, both in clinical roles and back office functions.

Apprentice Abbie Brierley is a case in point. After overcoming her fear of blood, she now carries out potentially life-prolonging health checks on Doncaster people and has just been rewarded for her determination.

Abbie has found that learning new skills with Hallcross Medical Services Ltd (HMSL) is just the right prescription, as the 20-year-old was named top Health, Public Service and Care Apprentice at this year’s Doncaster College Apprenticeship Awards. She joined Balby-based organisation 18 months ago and has developed into a key team player since then. The company holds a contract with Doncaster Council’s Public Health Department to carry out free health ‘MOTs’ on local people aged 40 to 74 years old, consisting of things like; weight, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure checks.

It takes around 20 minutes to complete each person’s review and Abbie is one of a team of healthcare assistants who regularly carry out the checks at community setting like B&Q stores and Doncaster Council’s Civic Centre.

Initially she was nervous about taking this particular apprenticeship as she was worried that she wouldn’t like to see people’s blood, but she quickly found that it involves nothing more than taking a pin prick amount for testing. She now enjoys all aspects of her job, from meeting patients and doing their health checks to all the administrative work back in the office.

In addition to the community-based checks, HMSL also works with Doncaster’s GP practices to carry out checks at their surgeries. Abbie organises the materials they need and records the data they capture.

More than 10,000 individual health checks are carried out in Doncaster each year, providing a vital early-warning system to help local people look after themselves better by making lifestyle changes where necessary. People aged 40 to 74 are entitled to one every five years.

Since this national service was introduced, rates of heart disease have dropped by 40 per cent across the country. Here in Doncaster, Abbie has quickly grown into an important role, giving residents the information they need to live longer and enjoy better quality lives.

To find out more about the free health checks speak to your surgery or visit: Hallcross Medical

If you’re eligible, you can have a health check on Monday 16 April at Adwick Sports Centre or Armthorpe Leisure Centre - from 10am to 4pm at both venues.