Simon Mitchell – GP

CELEBRATING 25 years in medicine, Dr Simon Mitchell is a welcome face on his ward rounds at Rowley Regis Hospital.

Simon is one of the GPs responsible for the care of patients in Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust’s ‘Medically Fit for Discharge’ ward at the community hospital. This is the ward for patients who are ready to go home, and do not need medical treatment. Eliza Tinsley ward provides nurse-led care with Simon leading GP cover for the 24 bed unit.

As Executive Partner for ‘Your Health Partnership’ – a large GP partnership in Sandwell, looking after 36,000 patients – Simon (47) followed advice to enter the medical profession when it was suggested at a parents’ evening when he was a schoolboy.

Appointed a Director of Sandwell PCT in 2007, Simon held the role for three years, enabling him to develop excellent working relationships with both fellow GPs and hospital consultants. He explained: “My motivation is to serve the public and look after my patients’ health and wellbeing. I am very interested in creating a sustainable GP practice, as in medicine today it is important to balance medical advances and increasing life spans with quality of life and appropriate medication. I regularly see patients with much more complicated medical histories than GPs would have typically seen 5 to 10 years ago, as nowadays patients can require treatment and medication for several serious conditions at the same time.

“To be a good doctor is to do the right thing for the patient. That does not necessarily mean to do what they want, but what is best for them.

“I have a range of roles which see me combining duties such as routine surgeries with 50% of patients suddenly unwell and the other half requiring planned care, community ward rounds at Rowley hospital, management of a large GP practice and development of digital technology to support innovative practice. Recently we undertook a pilot of ‘consultation by Skype’ and although we experienced some technical difficulties, such as the speed of connection and clarity of image, it is something that we will definitely pursue in the future.

“The next few years will bring some big challenges as we have more mergers in the pipeline, alongside the anticipation of the new Midland Met hospital.”

Simon served as a doctor in the military for seven years, seeing duty in Northern Ireland in the early 90s. Later in his career in 2004 he recalls travelling to New York with former Medical Director of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals, Dr Hugh Bradby, on a mission to recruit a number of Physician Associates to bring back to support clinicians in the area. This is an important role where the associate works under the direction of a doctor and is able to take full histories and make recommendations for treatment or follow up tests.

On their trip, the duo interviewed 50 hopefuls over five days, and ended up recruiting around a dozen qualified staff. He said: “Since then, Birmingham University has established a course to train Physician Associates, which is great as it means we can now recruit on our own doorstep. I believe one of the original Physician Associates we recruited in America still works for the Trust today.”

A keen cyclist and runner, Simon enjoys exercising his four and a half year old Lurcher – Bella, and chooses to get away from it all in Scotland or France. Married with three children, Jasmine (23), Harry (17) and Alice (14), Simon revealed his own hero is his physiotherapist wife Fiona. He explained: “I am incredibly lucky that Fiona is so supportive, and that she has adapted her career to enable me to fully pursue mine.”