Dr Cheryl Leung

Lead for Long-Term Conditions

My journey

I was born in Hong Kong into a medical family, though life for my parents was far from easy. My dad is from a native village and a farming family where his mother cannot write or read. My mum did not have a choice in her profession and sacrificed her budding nursing/midwifery career to bring up her two kids. Owing to my parents’ hard work and determination to give us better lives, access to quality and timely medical care was never an issue for my sister and I. I felt it was an obligation to ‘give back’ to the society as well as I could, therefore decided to follow my dad’s footsteps to becoming a doctor.

I qualified from the University of Bristol (MBChB) in 2010. During this time, I developed a profound interest in population health which was further consolidated by my 2-month stint as an intern at the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Region in my final year elective. I subsequently took a year out of my clinical training when I completed an MSc in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Medicine. My special niche is health systems and transformation. I returned to clinical practice in 2014 and completed my GP training (MRCGP) in 2017, and have been a Bexley GP since.

I am currently one of the two CCPL leads for Long-Term Conditions in the borough. A main area of focus for me has been in respiratory care, including procuring services and designing/redesigning pathways, working with system partners across sectors (e.g. Oxleas, Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust). In the last year, my team and I have been able to:

  • Restart some quality-assured respiratory diagnostics in the community
  • Bring in a longer-term local post-COVID rehabilitation programme
  • Re-procure a Pulmonary Rehabilitation service to ensure this service is well-suited to Bexley residents, now including a virtual option.

Acknowledging a huge unmet need of mis-/under diagnosed respiratory conditions since before COVID, and exacerbated by the pandemic, my team and I are working towards a more comprehensive respiratory diagnostics service – a quality-assured ‘one-stop shop’ – that is closer to patients’ homes. I am committed to getting this ‘right’ as respiratory conditions and breathing- related symptoms account for a considerable proportion of unplanned and avoidable emergency and urgent contacts with health services. Most importantly, these symptoms can hugely affect our residents’ quality of life as well as those nearest and dearest to them.

I am one of the two joint primary care leads for the South East (SE) London Respiratory Network, and lead on the Accurate Diagnostics Workstream across our 6 boroughs.

Complementing my interest and existing responsibilities within the realms of Long-Term Conditions, I am also in the Clinical Effectiveness SEL (CESEL) team as one of the Bexley clinical leads. This systematic, evidence-based quality improvement programme aims to support Bexley general practices, to improve health outcomes, minimise unwarranted variations and inequalities for our Bexley residents. To date, CESEL (Bexley) has delivered:

  • Two one-stop shop clinical guides on Hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes, incorporating the most up-to-date evidence and guidelines (e.g. local prescribing and NICE). These also contain resources for local clinical professionals as well as our residents.
  • Series of practice and Primary Care Network-level visits to support primary care colleagues in the detection, management, and reduction of inequalities in hypertension and diabetes care.
  • Education events for nurses, pharmacists, GPs and GP trainees.

Additionally, I also am one of the two primary care clinical leads for Pathology in SE London. The team will be focusing on a transformation programme which spans across all sectors in health care, which ultimately aims to improve outcomes and experiences for our professionals but most importantly, the millions of residents who call SE London home.

Outside of Bexley and SE London, I am a Population Health Associate at the King’s Fund. I would call myself a ‘proud product’ of the Fund’s ‘Emerging Clinical Leaders’ programme, which I now regularly contribute to as a speaker.