Sometimes things just come together. They click into place, everyone is on message and the team pulls together. Well my worlds of health care and yoga just clicked into place pulled together. The result was an Outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission when they inspected our GP surgery at the Docs in Central Manchester. The inspection looks at quality indicators such as are we safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led?  It also considers different patient groups and how we care for them. Well despite the challenges facing the NHS we have put the work in and we continue to do our best for the folk of Manchester city centre. You can read the report here

Obviously this inspection was more about health care than yoga but nevertheless, my personal practice of yoga and sharing it with my patients drew the interest of the CQC inspectors. Yoga was one of the examples that they found demonstrated, that as a practice, we are able to tailor the services that we offer to the needs of our patient population.

Some of you may remember that at the beginning of the year I cheekily wrote all over a GP’s prescription to encourage people to make yoga part of their life in 2016. This image linked to an open letter to the NHS about the benefits of yoga for psychological and physical wellbeing was shared widely over social media and even got the attention of local and national press. This snowballed yet further and to celebrate International Yoga day I was invited to speak at the Houses of Parliament for an All Party Parliamentary Group to support an Early Days Motion, “… yoga to be included as part of mindfulness and well-being initiatives for NHS staff and for yoga to be integrated within treatment for patients; and urges the Department for Education to introduce yoga in the school physical education curriculum.”

Whilst waiting for National Bodies to mull over the potential of yoga as a health care intervention, Yoga Manchester and the Docs put their heads together to reinforce this message locally. So now patients often leave my consulting room without a prescription for antidepressants, rather they have had a more wide-ranging discussion about what lifestyle interventions could help them get through difficult times. If they are up for it they may take up the challenge of trying yoga for the first time and skip away with a first class free voucher.

Now the gods roll their dice and the date of a Care Quality Commission inspection is beyond my control. It turns out that they chose to come during the week that I was undergoing David Swenson’s week long teacher training intensive workshop. My work colleagues were a bit put out that I had dodged the bullet of the inspection, so in the spirit of team work I legged it over from the Northern Quarter back to the surgery in the lunch time break of the workshop.  The Inspectors were a bit nonplussed when I burst into their meeting wearing sweaty yoga kit. “Right, I can give you 60 minutes then I need to leg it back to class.” I said in my most Zen like fashion, as you do when the most important inspection of your professional career is underway. Well what can I say? They like what they heard and the result is an outstanding result for the Docs

So my yoga sustains me and gets me through difficult times. Now I am on a journey to share that with others. I have convinced the team at the Docs that this approach has merit for our patients. Now the CQC endorses this view by awarding our practice an Outstanding rating. Happy days!!

the docs surgery