UHDB’s Dr Fauzia Begum recognised nationally for pioneering work on long covid support
Dr Fauzia Begum, Occupational Health Physician at UHDB and Clinical Medical Lead for Derbyshire's Post-Covid Services, has been recognised in the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) Occupational Health Awards 2022.
At the awards ceremony last month, Dr Begum was Highly Commended in the Outstanding Occupational Health Practitioner of 2022 category, following her pioneering work supporting NHS colleagues and patients who are experiencing long covid.
She was nominated for her work in Occupational Health throughout the pandemic, which included supporting the development and deployment of Vulnerable Worker Risk Assessments and providing guidance to navigate the fast-paced updates to Government advice.
Following the emergence of long covid, Dr Begum developed the Long Covid Staff Support Service for both UHDB colleagues and all health and social care colleagues across Derbyshire, as well as providing clinical leadership to the Post Covid Service for members of the wider Derbyshire community.
She said: “Some of the patients we see are struggling not only with their physical health, but often with the socioeconomic and psychological impact as a result of the prolonged illness, and each of these elements require rehabilitation. For all patients across Derbyshire referred to the service by their GPs, in addition to health and wellbeing support, we have also introduced vocational rehabilitation support as well as direct access to Citizens Advice Bureau for employment, housing, money and financial advice.
“We have worked with system partners including the voluntary sector to embed social prescribers into the service and empowered our Health and Wellbeing Support Workers to ensure personalised care is at the heart of what we offer. We have formed links with local council schemes including ‘LiveLifeBetterDerbyshire’, who are able to support local Derbyshire residents with lifestyle advice such as sleep hygiene or weight management and provide tailored support.”
Dr Begum is also passionate about steering the development of policies towards a healthier workforce. She said: “As project lead for Joined Up Care Derbyshire Long Covid Staff Support Service, I developed pathways to support physical and psychological rehabilitation. I’ve worked with local HR services to ensure health improvement initiatives and rehabilitation is embedded into return to work planning and welfare meetings, facilitated peer support initiatives, and have evaluated data collection for over 400 health and social care employees to date, to ensure the service is meeting the needs of its users.”
She was also recognised for her work on a national and international level, raising the awareness of long covid by producing and delivering health education sessions for partners across the Derbyshire System, nationally and as far away as Australia. Dr Begum also took a lead role in the creation of learning material for those working in Post Covid Services across NHS England.
Earlier this year, Dr Begum spoke at the Health at Work Conference and at the SOM/Faculty of Occupational Medicine Conference where she was able to demonstrate the benefits of having an Occupational Health Department Scheme to manage long covid amongst health and social care colleagues to support a successful return to work. She is also a member of the SOM long covid multidisciplinary group and has contributed to the recent SOM Position Paper ‘Long Covid and Return to Work – What Works?’
Dr Begum added: “As one of the Principal Investigators in the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) STIMULATE-ICP study led by University College London, the largest nationally funded trial into post Covid syndrome management, we aim to use data gathered locally and from across the country to add to the much-needed learning and evidence basis of Post Covid Syndrome. We aim to improve treatment and care of those with the condition across Derbyshire and beyond. I have been able to utilise my Occupational Medicine skills in health research and surveillance to identify trends, symptom clusters and treatments that currently work or need reviewing.”
Dr Fauzia Begum is proud to be recognised on a national level for her work in Occupational Health. She said: “It’s an honour to be chosen as Highly Commended for Outstanding Occupational Health Practitioner of 2022, when there are so many other Occupational Health colleagues doing amazing things. I am incredibly passionate about proactively supporting the Health and Wellbeing of my colleagues including those with long covid and other long term physical and psychological conditions through rehabilitation and workplace adjustments before they are referred to Occupational Health for sickness absence management.
“Occupational Health supports a number of health promoting initiatives. A physically and psychologically safe and respectful work environment, where we can be open about our needs and get the right support, ultimately leads to better outcomes for patients.”
Stephen Posey, Chief Executive at UHDB has shared his congratulations: “Dr Fauzia Begum is leading the way in Occupational Health support for colleagues with long covid and I am delighted she has been recognised for her exceptional work in this area. Her work is directly contributing to UHDB being a great place to work for our 14,000 colleagues, which is an outstanding achievement.”