Local Cancer GP, Dr Neil Smith, has won his age group category in the NHS triathlon championships, which took place on Saturday 17th June. He completed the 400m swim; 10 mile bike and 3 mile run in a time of 57 minutes and 5 seconds to take the senior veterans title.
Dr Smith has been a GP at Oakenhurst medical practice in Blackburn for 22 years and also works as stadium doctor for Blackburn Rovers. He is the cancer lead for Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). He and his team have recently won many accolades for their work including a North West NHS Leadership Award and the Health Service Journal National Patient Safety Award for their work in improving cancer services in East Lancashire. More recently, the team has been shortlisted for the national Healthcare Transformation Award.
The NHS Fun Triathlon is organised by Bolton Council’s Get Active team and takes place every year in Horwich. This year was the 6th year that the event has taken place.
Dr Smith said: “This triathlon event is designed to encourage more people to take up and enjoy exercise. One of the more startling facts is that four out of ten cancers could be prevented by lifestyle changes. If people did more exercise they would be less likely to suffer from common cancers such as breast and bowel cancer. Every little helps, so for example, just exercising by simply walking 30 minutes three times a week, is good for health and may reduce the risk of cancer”
Dr Smith is actively promoting awareness about fast track referrals for suspected cancer. Known as the two week rule, GPs can fast track patients who they fear may have suspected cancer. However around 6% of patients do not attend the first appointment offered to them for a variety of reasons. This rises quite steeply to around 20% (one in five people) if they think a diagnostic procedure may be carried out, such as bowel screening. The aim of the fast track referral is to identify cancer early and if spotted, treat it quickly, or rule it out and reduce unnecessary worry for patients. If cancer is seen and treated early, peoples’ survival rates are much higher and their quality of life is better. Dr Smith and his team encourage patients to attend all appointments and if they have any concerns or worries about what will happen at their appointment, to speak to their GP or nurse rather than not attend.
During his 50th birthday year Neil is undertaking a series of swimming, cycling and running events to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support with a target of £2000. He is aiming to inspire people to exercise more and improve the lives of everyone touched by cancer.