'Focus on' Local GP making a difference for people affected by cancer - June 2016
Dr Nicola Harker is much more than your average GP; in addition to her role at Long Ashton surgery in Bristol, she is also a clinical lead for North Somerset, a Macmillan GP, and a Macmillan GP Advisor for Central England.
As a Macmillan GP, Nicola helps in pushing for better cancer care in the area, working closely with other health and social care professionals to improve standards and raise awareness. Macmillan GPs devote one or two days per week to work with Macmillan Cancer Support. Their role is not to provide direct care to people with cancer but to help improve services, connect Macmillan professionals and educate other GPs in specialist cancer care.
In her North Somerset role, Nicola leads educational events for local GPs, actively participating in local cancer strategy meetings, and providing primary care and Macmillan perspective on service improvement projects to help provide the best care possible. Nicola says, ‘Working alongside other Macmillan professionals, including the GP Advisors (GPA), is very inspiring and I keep learning all the time.’
Nicola approached Macmillan in 2008 after reading an article in the British Medical Journal written by Charles Campion Smith (a former GPA) who described the valuable work Macmillan GPs can provide in their community. This sense of community is what inspired Nicola to be part of Macmillan. Nicola says, ‘What appeals to me still about the role is being “part of something” – an organisation that is working hard to improve the lives of everyone affected by cancer’.
Becoming a Macmillan GP has enabled Dr Harker to signpost patients to other services, support earlier diagnosis, and facilitate innovative ways to tackle the health challenges of the local population. For example, she worked with the Sunsmart team to make a video highlighting the importance of skin cancer awareness to help ease the pressure on dermatology services.
Nicola says, ‘The best part of my job is being a local clinician and being able to see the “bigger picture”, and have some influence about improving services. I believe that being engaged with change and improving services is the best way to keep me enthusiastic about my role as a GP’.
Nicola also enjoys speaking at Macmillan fundraising events which help her to continue to feel connected to Macmillan and the donors who support roles like hers
No one should face cancer alone. For support, information or if you just want to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk.