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‘GP of the Year’ revealed at new Awards

16 Sep 2016

Dr Ronan Fawsitt, GP

Kilkenny GP Dr Ronan Fawsitt was named ‘GP of the Year’ last night (Sept 15) at the inaugural GPBuddy Awards in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel, reports Dara Gantly.

Dr Fawsitt, who also picked up an award for ‘Best GP and Hospital Collaboration’, was praised for having developed a strong working relationship with St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, in particular with Dr Garry Courtney, forming a strong collaboration that is now functioning as the Local Integrated Care Committee (LICC).

In his nomination, Dr Fawsitt was described as having “re-energised” the local Carlow/Kilkenny GP Hospital liaison process and successfully through “huge enthusiasm and commitment” driven the concept of local integrated care committees within the ICGP and Ireland East Hospital Group, both nationally and politically.

The liaison process in Kilkenny engages all parties in the doctor-patient process including GPs, consultants, public health doctors, hospital and community management and pharmacists, in order to “drive highly efficient patient-focused care”. A mark of the success of this collaboration has been the formation of new LICCs in other areas of the country.

Dr Michael Harty, TD

Rural GP
Unsurprisingly, the ‘Rural GP of the Year’ award went to Dr Michael Harty TD, who has run his single-handed rural practice in Kilmihill, Co Clare, for 32 years. He was also elected to Dáil Éireann this year, running on a campaign of ‘No Doctor, No Village’, which advocated for greater resourcing for general practice in rural Ireland.

Dr Harty was nominated in recognition of his leadership roles and contribution to maintaining rural general practice in Ireland, including his election to the Dáil. His engagement with health policy has continued with his taking up the position of Chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee.

GP in media
Greystones GP and medical expert on RTÉ’s Operation Transformation Dr Ciara Kelly, meanwhile, scooped the ‘GPs in the Media’ award. Dr Kelly is the resident medical expert on Newstalk’s The Right Hook and has a weekly column called ‘Doctors Orders’ in the Sunday Independent. Previously she was the resident GP on TV3’s The Morning Show for three years.

Commenting at the GPBuddy Awards, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he could see in the nominations the “innovation, dynamism and commitment” of general practitioners. “I am convinced that GPs are capable of taking on a leadership role in the development of an integrated, team-based primary care system. I hope the examples of great practice being recognised tonight will encourage further collaboration between primary care professionals in communities around Ireland.”

A panel of judges including healthcare and medical professionals reviewed more than 200 nominations to select the final 39 short-listed entries.

PCT award
Winner of the ‘GP and Primary Care Team Collaboration’ award was Dr Edel McGinnity of the Riverside Medical Centre and Mulhuddart Primary Care Team, Mulhuddart, Dublin 15, for forging strong links with the primary care teams, meeting regularly and striving to improve the care of patients using all resources available.

The Mulhuddart Primary Care team comprises physiotherapists, social workers, public health nursing, community mental health nursing and occupational therapy. It meets twice a month, where patient issues are discussed alongside community issues and support services available for community events.

Such is the strength of the collaboration that Dr McGinnity and the practice have been part of a PhD study researching a collaborative team approach to the PCT conducted in UCD in 2014. Dr McGinnity — one of the Deep End Group founders, which aims to increase funding for deprived practices — was described as working “tirelessly to advocate for patients individually, locally and at national level”.

Establishing GP
The ‘Establishing GP of the Year’ is Dr Patrick O’Donnell (UCD, 2006) of Park Lodge Medical Centre, Dublin Road, Limerick, and UL. Having spent some time working in Perth, Australia, he returned to Ireland and trained as a GP in Sligo. After completing the training scheme in 2012, he began a Master’s degree at TCD and then began working in Park Lodge Medical Centre in 2013, and is part of a joint venture between the practice and the Partnership for Health Equity based at the Graduate Entry Medical School of the University of Limerick (UL). He currently works part of the week at UL researching healthcare for marginalised groups.

In his nomination, Dr O’Donnell was described as one of the founding members of the Partnership for Health surgeries that specialise in providing free medical care to homeless and marginalised people in Limerick. “Patrick delivers these services in three surgeries in Limerick City, caring for people all over the city and treating a range of complex health needs. He gives his own time up outside of his surgery work to carry out research to improve the medical services provided in Ireland and overseas for disadvantaged and marginalised people in society.”

Dr Paul Ryan

GP/pharmacy links
The ‘GP and Community Pharmacy Collaboration’ award went to Dr Paul Ryan, Pharmacist and GP, Glanmire, Cork. Dr Ryan implemented the introduction of a primary care prescribing formulary to a nursing home, employing a collaborative approach between pharmacists and GPs that “harnesses the unique skill mix of GPs and community pharmacists to optimise medication safety while addressing escalating medication costs”.

The application of this formulary successfully demonstrated cost savings and de-prescribing of inappropriate medications.

GP research
Meanwhile, Dr Mark O’Kelly of Rialto Medical Centre, Dublin 8, won the ‘Best GP Research’ award for his research, entitled ‘Opt-out testing for blood-borne viruses in primary care: a multicentre, prospective study’.

The aim of the study was to assess the viability and yield of routine opt-out testing for blood-borne viruses (BBVs), which are associated with chronic ill health and mortality. Early diagnosis reduces disease transmission, delays progression and improves outcomes.

The study — published in the British Journal of General Practice — indicated that testing for BBV in patients presenting for routine blood tests in primary care was viable.

Dr Darach Ó Ciardha,

Dr Darach Ó Ciardha, co-founder of GPBuddy, said the Awards were created to recognise healthcare professionals who were working hard on the ground to care for their patients. “These individuals, be they GPs, practice staff, pharmacists and others — are working silently, tirelessly and collaboratively in communities to make a real difference to the delivery of healthcare in this country,” he said.

Trainee award
The GP Trainee of the Year is Dr Rukshan Goonewardena, who has just graduated from the North East GP Training Programme. Dr Goonewardena was described as a natural leader, with enviable interpersonal skills that made him a first-rate addition to Irish general practice. He has distinguished himself among his peers through his contributions to ICGP Committees and GP training over the past four years.

Practice manager
Also among the 13 individuals receiving awards last night were Practice Administrator / Practice Manager of the Year Mrs Breda Hayes of the Westbury House Medical Centre, Athea, Co Limerick, who was recognised as being “loyal, dedicated, hard working and is a model of courtesy, friendliness and helpfulness”, and when she undertook the ICGP Practice Management Programme, she produced a practice manual that has been emulated by many other practices.

Practice nurse
Nurse Liz Healy of Sutton Cross Surgery, Sutton, Dublin 13, was named as the ‘Practice Nurse of the Year’. Working with Drs Nicola Gilliland, John Allman and Idris Kunni, Ms Healy was described in her nomination as “very popular, bringing a huge amount of education, professionalism, compassion and good humour to her role in the practice”.

Trained in Implanon insertion/removal and engaged in teaching other practice nurses the method, she was involved in the formation of the Irish Practice Nurses Association (IPNA) in 2010 and had the role of Branch Secretary for two years before taking up her role as National Executive committee representative for the North Dublin Branch.

The Website of the Year award went to Mercer’s Medical Centre on Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2 — the practice of Dr Una O’Neill and Dr Judith was described as “clear and uncluttered”, offering a huge amount of easily accessible, relevant and informative medical information, suitable for all patients, including a built-in translator for each page, covering more than a hundred different languages.

A further 26 people were shortlisted across all categories.

Patient’s choice
A final Patients’ Choice Award went to Dr Iver Hanrahan of Kyle Court Clinic, Old Davitt Street, Tipperary, who was nominated by his patients for his caring and dedicated manner, and also his commitment to mental health issues.

He was described as “going above and beyond the call of duty”, giving time to his patients, and “always seeing the bigger picture”.


Dara Gantly

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times