Jack Czauderna was a General Practitioner (GP) in Darnall from 1980 in a practice which was innovative from the start. We benefitted from some of the earliest use of counselling in general practice, women’s health workers, nurse practitioners and interpreters when the ethnic mix of our practice population changed. We had a public health perspective which developed from an understanding of the social and political determinants of health. This influenced our practice towards the Gypsy and Traveller community and resulted in dedicated staff including health visitors and a mobile clinic. Well before dementia was considered a mainstream issue, we set up the Darnall Dementia Group (DDG) to deliver day care for people with dementia and their carers. It is still going strong after 37 years and is one of our sister organisations in Darnall. The Sheffield Occupational Health Project grew out of work in practices like ours where conversations with workers in GP waiting rooms focused on work related health issues previously unrecognised. Our commitment to these ideas and ways of working were underpinned by a practice organised around collective, non-hierarchical decision making and an equal pay structure for staff.
The other major influences which prompted a move away from just treating sick people towards a more health orientated approach were the lessons of the famous ‘Peckham Experiment’. The Pioneer Health Centre was opened in 1935 in Peckham, South London as a ‘family club’. It took health, not sickness as its focus and created an environment where people could pursue ‘health’ in whatever way they wanted. Although it closed in 1950 it demonstrated a focus on health which has been somewhat lost in the modern NHS. Its principles and ideas influenced the lottery funded ‘Healthy Living Centres’ initiative which prompted us to apply. We wanted to build a healthy living centre to incorporate the practice but also to do as many of the things we learnt from the Peckham Experiment as we could. We failed at the last hurdle in getting funds for the building but set up Darnall Well Being to deliver the activities required to address the issues of health. This started with the concepts of ‘Social Prescribing’ and developed activities locally which people wanted to do. We have continued the public health ethos and addressed local issues like diabetes and widespread involvement with the ethnic mix in the neighbourhood including recent migrants such as the Roma. We have maintained close links with the practice and remain co-located in the new building which unfortunately does not yet function as a ‘Healthy Living Centre’.
While he has stood down as Chair of DWB, Jack remains committed to continuing the work of DWB and its relationships with the other local community groups which include Darnall Forum, Family Development Project and Darnall Dementia Group. Jack is also the Chair of the Pioneer Health Foundation which keeps alive the legacy of the ‘Peckham Experiment’.