Wellsbourne Healthcare Community Interest Company

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Dr Christa Beesley says “farewell”

Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC is sharing the news that Dr Christa Beesley will be retiring in March 2022 after 40 years working in the NHS.

Dr Beesley says:

“I have loved working in Whitehawk for the last 8 years of my career, first as a locum doctor and, for the last 4 years, as part of the team at Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC. When we set up Wellsbourne, we hoped that it would be a different kind of practice: one that would work more closely with our patients and our community. What has made working at Wellsbourne so fulfilling is the people – the people of Whitehawk and East Brighton are impressive: caring, resilient, diverse, hard-working and with a huge amount of creative ideas.

I am very proud of the way that the community and the team got our practice going in 2018. In 2020, we all pulled together when the pandemic struck. Staff and community volunteers working together managed not only to keep a primary care service going, but also to get medicines, food, oxygen saturation monitors and support to people who were shielding or isolating. We made special arrangements in the practice to see people with chronic conditions who needed checks the most, and we never stopped offering cervical screening or immunising babies either!

Later I and many of my colleagues from Wellsbourne were very excited to be able to give patients COVID vaccinations at the Brighton Racecourse. Many patient volunteers stepped up brilliantly to help as stewards and administrators.

Back in the surgery, it was not ideal having to replace face to face consultations with telephone calls. But e-consultations, video consultations and the ability to send in photos has allowed rapid diagnosis and more convenience at times. In recent months, it has been great to see more of my patients face to face again

In July 2021, I was privileged to work on the “Souls to Paradise” exhibition, which was a moving experience. Early in the pandemic I had begun to fold paper cranes in memory of health and social care colleagues who had lost their lives to COVID. In ancient Japanese culture these cranes were thought to carry to paradise the soul of someone who had died. In more recent times cranes have come to represent hope in times of crisis. After discussing my cranes with colleagues (I had folded about 500 by then), we decided to ask members of the community if they would like to join in. We received more than 3,000 cranes in total, from local schools, community groups and individuals all around the country. Three thousand was the number of people who had died from COVID in Sussex at that time, which made the memorial even more poignant. Many people wrote the names of lost loved ones inside the wings of the folded cranes.

Christa and Ian standing beneath the ‘Souls to Paradise’ memorial – July 2021

Local artist and staff member, Ian Leaver-Blaxstone designed an amazing murmuration of cranes, measuring more than 8m long and 5m high. Volunteers, incuding staff and patients from Wellsbourne, spent two days hanging the mumuration in the Spire, a decommissioned church in Kemp Town. More than 300 community members came to the exhibition and it was amazing to witness their reactions and hear their stories.

Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC volunteers have also been working on our fabulous community garden which is now enjoyed by both staff and patients who come to the Health Centre. I have loved seeing the progress on the garden and even enjoyed eating some of the fresh produce from time to time.

In the first three months of retirement I plan to go to Mallorca for a long, three-month rest. I will miss everyone but I have full confidence in the community and the team. I know that our new doctor, Dr Shirjilla Qazi, will look after all my patients very well. Whitehawk and Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC will always be in my heart and I will definitely be back to visit in the summer, to see how everyone is and how the community, Wellsbourne and the garden are growing!