QE volunteer at doctor’s surgery Britain’s youngest ‘NHS hero’?

QE volunteer at doctor’s surgery Britain’s youngest ‘NHS hero’?

Year 10 pupil Ryan Bentley’s dedicated voluntary work at his father’s NHS GP practice over the last two years is paying dividends in the current health crisis.

Ryan, who has spent every Friday afternoon after school and much of his holidays working in the administration department, has now become a key player in the practice in Golders Green, and is even training new staff.

His proud father, John Bentley, who is a GP Principal, said patients cannot believe how young he is, as he displays maturity and leadership qualities well beyond his 14 years: “We think Ryan may be the youngest official NHS worker at this time.”

Staff at the surgery, The Practice @ 188, have commented on how invaluable his contribution has been, said Dr Bentley. “He has been working diligently and conscientiously since lockdown. After completing his schoolwork, he gives nearly every minute of his time to the practice, to help us continue functioning and providing essential healthcare services to the public.”

Ryan’s role includes regularly communicating with NHS organisations to try to source personal protective equipment (PPE). He also updates the clinicians at the practice as to the latest published guidance on the management of suspected coronavirus cases. He helps to arrange staff rotas and is constantly answering phone-calls from worried and anxious patients, some of whom are obviously unwell and exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus, requiring either simple reassurance or directing to the appropriate medical services.

Ryan has found that the nature of his duties has changed since the advent of Covid-19. “Many patients no longer come into the surgery, so the number of online encounters has increased. Lots of emails are coming through daily, which need to be looked at and then matched with hospitals or other health departments.

“I have always enjoyed working here; before this crisis, it was about meeting a wide range of people and learning about their different backgrounds and how that can affect health. The biggest challenge now is that I cannot always help people. They may have a problem, but cannot get an appointment for a very long time – even though they are suffering. Sometimes there is just nothing we can do to help them.”

Dr Bentley’s GP practice has become even busier as they witness dozens of their patients, particularly from the surrounding care homes, suffering and dying from Covid-19.

“The outbreak has dramatically changed our NHS working environment,” says Dr Bentley. “Many of our own staff have either been off sick or are self-isolating. To make matters even more challenging our Practice Manager went off on maternity leave just before the Covid-19 outbreak. Ryan has demonstrated a very mature approach to his work here. He is carrying out all his duties with the utmost enthusiasm, passion and diligence – qualities very much in keeping with the ethos QE instils in its pupils.

“All staff at the practice have commented on what remarkable leadership qualities he possesses and have quipped that he is needed here permanently, as he is proving to be an asset to all who work here or use our services. Another nearby practice implied they wanted to use his skills, and he has recently been invited to participate in the local NHS managers forum, due to his significant role at the practice,” added Dr Bentley.