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A Caring Manchester

5th June 2017

A blog by Dr Sohail Munshi: Chief Medical Officer, Manchester Provider Board

I’ve never written a blog before so this is a first.

I’ve been a GP for 20 years in Manchester and had the privilege of being a guest in the lives of my patients on a daily basis. I’ve also been involved in the work around the integration of health providers and social care using the skills of the voluntary sector and community assets. I smugly thought, therefore, when I was asked a couple of weeks ago that I was in a pretty good position to write this. General practice has taught me you can never predict life so maybe I should have known better…

The tragic events at Manchester Arena shook me on so many levels. As a father, as a Manchester GP, as a lifelong Greater Mancunian and as a Muslim. My initial response was dictated by my “professional instincts” and before I was even dressed I’d asked the North GP federation to liaise with Accident and Emergency at North Manchester General Hospital to send in extra capacity. By the time I arrived at work it was all sorted.

When Manchester Health Care Commissioning (MHCC) called to ask about providing GPs to offer extra appointments in community hubs, we were able to deliver in the blink of an eye. GPs were deployed all day from early morning to midnight at the Etihad to help with the care of distressed, distraught families at the request of Manchester City Council.

GPs and nurses around Manchester were constantly offering their help through the day. In the city centre, I could see MHCC leaders co-ordinating efforts and arranging mental health support. As always, our emergency services zoomed into action and our local hospitals demonstrated what I already know – the NHS is a marvellous institution.

What I learned for the first time, however, is that MCC staff like Hazel, Nicky, Jill and others are an amazingly caring group of human beings. That the local Apple store sent phone chargers to the Etihad and food outlets sent food to the hospital and the Etihad. Taxi drivers worked for nothing to overcome transport issues. What I saw is only a tiny microcosm of what happened on the day of course. It’s only one person’s binocular experience. But it was so uplifting on a human level.

So I’ve abandoned my original subject matter for a blog to reflect on this, I couldn’t possibly blog about anything else could I?

Oh and can health and social care work together with local communities in Manchester? Do I really still need to answer that one?

I think not.