Dr Faruk Majid's Blog
Dr Faruk Majid is the Chair for NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). He has has been a Lewisham GP for 29 years and is a partner at Hilly Fields Medical Centre.
A view from a hill
The medical centre where I’m a GP is named after, and overlooks, a park. Walk to the top of Hilly Fields and you’re rewarded with views across to Canary Wharf in the north, and towards Crystal Palace in the south. There’s a cafe, a playground, and a stone circle built for the millennium. It’s a place where all parts of our local community come and enjoy the open space and shady trees.
It was saved from development 120 years ago for this very purpose. Originally planned to become housing, thanks to protesting local residents (and a group of celebrities including the founder of the National Trust), it became the park it still is today.
The inequality in society was a big issue when Hilly Fields opened in 1896. “The district lying along the river from Greenwich to Rotherhithe is the second poorest in London” said the Chairman of London City Council at the park’s opening. “All the greater importance therefore attaches to the preservation of such a fine open space as this, which is only a mile distant from some of the most congested quarters.”
Today, inequality remains a huge issue for all public services in Lewisham, including for the NHS. Our population is far more diverse than it ever was, with 47% of Lewisham residents coming from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. As both a GP and a ‘commissioner’ of services, this means that we have to pay close attention to the wants and needs of different parts of our population.
Back in January, the NHS set out its plans for the whole of England. We’re now talking to people across south east London about what this means for us.
We’re going to be meeting to discuss this on Tuesday 16 July, 5-7:30pm at St Laurence Centre, 37 Bromley Road, London SE6 2TS. All are very welcome to join, with spaces available here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/help-us-to-shape-the-future-of-the-nhs-in-lewisham-and-south-east-london-tickets-63638911698. Light refreshments and food will be provided from 16:30. If that day doesn’t work for you, there’s also a range of other events you can join us at across south east London in July and August, or you can fill in our quick survey. You can find all of the information at the ‘Our Healthier South East London’ website.
We’re keen to discuss topics such as making it easier to access NHS services, or how we can improve mental health care for children and young people. But we mustn’t lose sight that all of our plans, whatever type of healthcare they’re about, must help address inequalities. This includes helping all of our staff across Lewisham understand the experiences of the different parts of our population. For example, we know that the variety of messages sent to people in different formats such as letters, texts, phone calls and emails with instructions for appointments, test results, screening reminders etc. can be confusing for some people.
We need you as part of this conversation. Come and talk to us about how healthcare feels to you, and how you’d like it to be better in the future. I look forward to seeing you there.