Sheffield doctors do a citywide ‘Tour de NHS’ to encourage cycling

After 105 miles cycling round 80 GP practices and four hospitals, two Sheffield GPS gratefully completed their Move More NHS Tour de Sheffield on a wet Tuesday at the end of June’s Move More Month and Bike Month.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 10:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 10:58 am

“The conditions were challenging but the people we’ve spoken to along the way have cheered us on and kept us going,” said Dr Jo Maher from Wincobank Medical Centre.

Her 47-mile ‘northern leg’ of the Tour including Stocksbridge and northern Sheffield was the furthest she’d ever cycled in one day.

Colleague Dr Andy Douglas, now mainly a freelance locum after working at the White House Surgery on the Manor, covered the longer ‘southern leg’.

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GPs Andy Douglas and Jo Maher being welcomed to the Northern General Hospital by Roxanne Maritz of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust during the NHS Tour on June 29

Although he’d cycled the Alpe de Huez and other sections of the Tour de France before, he said the logistics of visiting so many GPs in one day was just as challenging.

The idea was to collect stories from NHS staff about how they’re encouraging activity and active travel within Sheffield NHS and how both patients and staff are benefiting.

“It was a privilege to witness such amazing stories of people promoting physical activity around Sheffield,” said Andy.

“We know that people want to be active and to cycle more often but they’re often let down by infrastructure and a culture where people don’t cycle to work. But we want to change that culture.”

Many of the NHS staff they met during their nine-hour socially distant Tour said how e-bikes are enabling people who hadn’t cycled for years to start making work trips by bike, such as Dr Aarti Bansal who now also promotes cycling for transport through her Greener Practice Initiative.

“We had a fantastic reception at the Northern General Hospital and there is certainly an appetite for active travel from staff, for wellbeing, practicality and interest in what they can do for the climate emergency,” said Jo.

The pair met doctors who now travel by e-bike rather than cars, surgeries who’ve invested in e-powered cargo bikes for work journeys and many NHS staff who’ve been inspired to cycle more by loan bikes through the city’s CycleBoost scheme.

“There are 80 GP practices in Sheffield, and if those 80 GP surgeries all made a small action, the collective power of that would be immense,” said Jo.

The two GPs are now working for the city’s Move More activity initiative as GP leads, and hope to run the Tour again next year to see what progress has been made to encourage active travel among hospitals and medical centres.

Despite the day-long drizzle, the two doctors enjoyed their Tour of the Outdoor City.

“It feels like a success and we have learned lessons which will help us organise the next one in 2021,” said Jo.

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