Career Stories - Dr Honey Smith
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Dr Honey Smith

Salaried GP with special interest in sexual health, GP tutor, net zero clinical lead for south Yorkshire and Bassetlaw ICS, and Chair of Greener Practice

I came from a family of GPs - both parents were GPs in East London, so I had a sense of the accomplishment of getting to know patients, not as the vehicles of illness, but as people with lives, families, livelihoods, and hobbies. During my training I briefly became interested in a career in palliative care because I loved the holistic nature of care, the extra time that I could spend with patients and the strong sense of relieving suffering as the key focus. But then I realised I could have all of this in General Practice, and far, far more. In what other area of medicine could I be advising a first-time mum one minute, and supporting an 80-year-old with heart failure to make a decision about resuscitation the next? The variety and depth of the work is staggering, and the joy is in approaching each patient as a unique person facing key decisions and challenges in relation to their healthcare. For me, its all about person- centred, holistic care - and no branch of medicine gives greater opportunities for this than General Practice. 

Another great joy for me, is the portfolio career opportunities. I work 2 days a week in GP, 1 session in sexual health and 1 session teaching medical students. Each part of my work complements the others. A special interest in sexual health gives me expertise in my GP job which colleagues appreciate. I love working in taboo areas because a non-judgemental, warm and open approach is key to delivering excellence in these areas, and staff will attest to the laughter that often comes from my room when I am helping patients to feel at ease. Working with medical students is a total delight; seeing moments of clarity and understanding as they appreciate the importance of holistic and patient centred care gives immeasurable satisfaction. 

Alongside all this, I am chair of Greener Practice, a national climate and sustainability network. The group, which started in 2017, includes GPs and medical students as well as others working in primary care. Our founder, Dr Aarti Bansal, realised there was a need for a primary care decarbonisation hub. As a GP, it’s all too often apparent that social changes such as addressing social inequalities and the climate crisis need to happen before my deprived practice population can achieve better health. The climate crisis is the greatest threat to human health that there has ever been. It is also the greatest opportunity to solve many problems at once - to transform our society to one that’s not reliant on polluting fossil fuels and car transport, to one engaged again with nature and tackling the problems of obesity and inactivity. So, we work on all these areas to improve population health, promoting green prescribing, plant-based diets, active transport for staff and patients, health promotion and disease prevention, patient empowerment, alternatives to medications etc. We support practices to complete actions in the Green Impact for Health toolkit. We worked with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to declare a climate emergency and to deliver a carbon reduction plan and I’m happy to be the net zero clinical lead for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (ICS), supporting clinical decarbonisation.


Useful link
Green Impact for Heath Toolkit https://www.greenerpractice.co.uk/green-impact-for-health-toolkit

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 USEFUL LINKS