Essentially Medical, an independent medical education company, was started by Shenley-based Evelyn Diamond in 2004. After 10 years of working as Marketing Manager in the private medical sector at The Garden Hospital, she realised that there was an information gap within the profession between GPs and Consultants that needed to be addressed.
“Many of the NHS Consultants I worked with expressed their concerns that local GPs just didn’t know who they were. I began Essentially Medical as a way of bringing local GPs and NHS Consultants together so they could learn more from each other to benefit their respective local patients. This then developed into Consultants giving up their time to visit GPs and share their expertise at surgeries or other locations at a convenient time”.
The company co-ordinates and organises free educational sessions for GPs, their nurses and healthcare assistants to meet with locally based Consultants. The sessions are held at the GP’s own premises and timings are flexible enough to work around the surgeries’ operational hours, with the GP being able to choose whether sessions take place before surgery, during lunchtime or early evening. Refreshments are provided at all meetings, including kosher food if requested. These meetings enable GPs to choose an area of interest and receive bespoke education and training from relevant consultants on a wide range of subjects.
“It’s quite a simple idea, but what is so special about this service is that it makes the best use of time. We understand that GPs and Consultants are extremely busy people, and that they rarely have time to meet, so we aim to maximise the use of their time by ensuring that the GPs get the training they want, by literally bringing it to them at their place of work at times that suits them”.
When she first started the business, she was advised by several Consultants including Mr Daryll Baker, consultant vascular surgeon at The Royal Free Hospital, and also Dr Martin Harris, a Temple Fortune GP who has been very helpful from a GP’s perspective.
Since it started the company has organised in excess of 2000 meetings, and now has more than 130 Consultants taking part in the service, who work both in the NHS and private sector.The NHS is constantly looking at ways to keep costs down, and Evelyn believes that her company has been able to save the service literally thousands of pounds by giving GPs training and education to be able to treat patients better. “It saves
the NHS money because after the educational meetings GPs feel able to make informed decisions on a patient’s health, dealing with problems without having to make what is often an expensive referral to a hospital”.
The meetings are organised free of charge, so there is no cost to the GP or NHS. The finance comes from the Pharmaceutical or medical equipment company reps who are invited to sponsor the meetings and give a short non-promotional product presentation. Each Consultant speaker has a short biography on the website and this provides GPs and the public with the individual’s information. As well as organising these meetings, Evelyn has also arranged for some of the Consultants to speak at charity events, including the UJIA Mother and Baby fair last year.
“I guess, you could call me a medical matchmaker. We invite GPs to let us know their learning requirements in specific areas of medicine and then match them with a Consultant with expertise in that field. The GP is able to tap into the most recent information and developments in key areas of healthcare from relevant Consultants who also often update them in services available in their local NHS Hospitals. It’s a win-win situation”.
For their involvement in the scheme, both Consultants and GPs receive Certificates of Participation. For GP’s, there is a set amount of hours learning that needs to be covered annually, and for Consultants there is a specific amount of teaching required and so these certificates fulfil these obligations on both sides.
Over the past 13 years, Evelyn has developed good working relationships with many of the Consultants, GPs and Pharma reps as well as those who work directly with her at Essentially Medical. The business is run as a franchise and Sacha Myers, the Company administrator helps Evelyn both in the office and also in the running of the surgery meetings. The service runs mainly in North West, West London, Enfield, East and West Hertfordshire, but Evelyn plans to possibly branch out to other areas including South London and Essex. Each area has their own team, and these are headed up by Susan Lipman, Kay Mavromatis and Denise James-Rutty. “Having a great team of colleagues is really essential. I know that I can call on any of them, and we are always happy to help each other out”.
She believes offering a first class customer service is key for anyone setting up their own business. “It is really important to always go that extra mile. Although it takes time to build up relationships, it is definitely worthwhile. Often when pharmaceutical reps contact me, they have been told by surgeries that in order to speak to the GPs and nurses at the practice, they have to arrange it through Essentially Medical. How great is that?”
Evelyn really enjoys running her own business, and the flexibility that this offers.
“Being able to be my own boss, and doing something that really helps people makes it all worthwhile. I am really proud of what I have achieved, and the fact that my business is not only beneficial to patients, but also saves the NHS valuable time and money as well”.
If you are a GP, or medical professional and would like to be involved in the scheme, please contact Evelyn on firstname.lastname@example.org.