You may have heard of a midwife on a bike, or even the Psyche on a bike that would travel around; but you have probably never heard of LARC on a bike. That is, unless you live and work in Southwark.
Dr Rudi Pittrof, or our LARC on a bike, is a great example of how Pause professionals work differently, right down to their mode of transport. Dr Rudi Pittrof is a South London Sexual Health Consultant and Pause’s Sexual Health doctor in Southwark. Through his outreach work, Dr Rudi provides advice on the various methods of Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC), and where necessary, administers it. He does this being on call for Pause, the homeless team and the addiction psychiatry team 24/7 arranging urgent appointments and offering advice or getting literally on his bike as soon as possible. No lunch break, early afternoon or holiday is too precious when he can prevent a pregnancy that would result in a child in care. His energy and enthusiasm helped Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital take home last year’s David Bromham Memorial Award.
“Doing things differently”, like Dr Rudi, is at the heart of the Pause model. A big part of this is attracting staff and partners that are keen to innovate. From the very beginning, Dr Rudi was an important figure in getting funding for Pause Southwark. He believes that an important part of the programme, and what makes Pause stand out, is the intensive and systemic approach; LARC on its own would not be enough to enable the transformative change in women. He believes that empowering women to create positive futures is what matters most and this work is done by the Pause Practitioners.
Dr Rudi has always been passionate about outreach and empowering vulnerable people through community based work. However, after undergoing major surgery for a life threatening aneurysm three years ago, he was inspired by his fantastic surgeon to go even further.
Dr Rudi was so impressed he wanted to find a way to be just as great a doctor in the field of sexual health. Dr Rudi now works with a variety of hard to reach groups such as those in prison, young offenders, homeless, drug and alcohol users and with the women on Pause.
Describing a typical day for Dr Rudi is difficult, as no one day is ever the same! Six sessions (3 days) per week he is found in conventional NHS clinics, and another two in the drug and alcohol clinic, providing family planning and sexual health care. On Wednesdays Dr Rudi attends medical lectures in the morning, leaving the afternoon free to work with Pause clients – though it’s not only Wednesdays that Dr Rudi is on hand to help.
He often spends lunch breaks and late afternoons responding to urgent sexual health calls and consultations in the community. For example, a vulnerable client recently needing the contraceptive implant fitted. Dr Rudi jumped on his bike, medical kit in tow, and met the woman in her hostel.
Dr Rudi feels that more health professionals should leave the comfortable setting of their clinic and enter the sometimes disarrayed and unpredictable community settings. The chaotic lives of our hardest to reach clients mean they tend not to access the full complement of sexual health services.
A cycling sexual health doctor may seem like an unusual approach, but doing things differently can inspire change in practice and service delivery. This undoubtedly improves the chances and choices of Pause women. Pause want to do everything ‘on a bike’ – making this sort of innovative work best practice, not just unique practice; and enabling all women to aspire and achieve.