Day one of Street Doctor

Day one of Street Doctor

Monday 16th September 2019

​Our CEO Wil Woan will be writing a daily blog for European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week read the first here...

The first morning of European Heart Valve Disease Awareness Week was a mixture of nerves and excitement. Stood in the shadow of St Thomas’ in the morning rush hour, Patient Advocate Alison Banayoti found many people happy to take a minute of their manic mornings to let us listen to their hearts.

Even in the chaos of London’s hectic morning we were enthused by the amount of people willing to take the time to listen to what we had to say. With every heart checked those nerves dissipate, and after an hour of London’s rush we were in full swing.

By 11am, and with London conquered, we packed up our equipment, bid farewell to our clinicians supporters Chris Young (and our chairman!) and Amanda Bott (and a Trustee!), and made the dash to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for the second part of our day. We were tired and definitely colder, but still full of enthusiasm and increasingly invigorated by how engaged people were by our message.

Our giant street doctors walking on stilts were a real pull in London and Edinburgh. The introduction of the carnivalesque changed the shape of our interactions with the public, capturing their attention and aiding ability to engage them.

The street doctors are part of a European wide campaign designed to increase the amount of people who understand the symptoms of heart valve disease and then empowering them to ask the questions about having their heart listened to. As chair of the Global Heart Hub Heart Valve Disease Patient Council, this is the upmost importance to me.

The effectiveness of the strategies of these alliances was hugely rewarding. Even in Edinburgh, after a month of the most weird and wonderful the world has to offer at The Fringe Festival, they drew people in and increased our reach exponentially.

Our message is strong and important, but people are naturally weary of being approached in the street. Yet the Street Doctors changed attitudes and our interactions were warm and engaging, enabling us to collect much more data for our survey – the details of which will be posted later in the week.

We have another early morning on Tuesday as we unleash our Street Doctors on Belfast, but the nerves are gone now, and we are full of excitement for the rest of the week. On to Belfast!

the more we listen, the more lives we save...