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Hannah Barham-Brown: A month of elections

Hannah Barham-Brown on count night at the local elections

Friday, 31st May 2019

When the wonderful folks at TGA sent me my WHILL, they made me promise to do many exciting things with it. They probably weren’t anticipating my cramming quite so many things into one month though! 

While I love my clinical work, it’s not really an option for me to work full time, thanks to my condition, but I try to make the most of my non-doctoring time by trying to change the world. Obviously.

This month has been all about the elections. First up was the local election, where I was standing (sitting?) to be a councillor for the Women’s Equality Party. Count Night on wheels was interesting – a very busy floor in Leeds Direct Arena, a very late night, and a lot of concentrating on numbers while not rolling into anyone… well, only the once, but I promise that was an accident! We got 365 votes, which as a first-time candidate for a newer party was really fantastic, and I beat two others (including UKIP!).

The end of a long few months of campaigning and canvassing around my local area, it was great to celebrate with my amazing team of local members – but I certainly wasn’t able to have a rest, as I’d already been selected as a European Parliamentary Candidate for the party in London, which has meant a lot of trips up and down the country from my home in Leeds. Being able to whizz up ramps onto train carriages has made life a lot safer, and I think the staff are grateful not to have to push me! Lots of fun media work, and it has been really fulfilling to be ‘out there’ as a candidate in a wheelchair; despite disability issues being so important, we really don’t have adequate representation as a community in politics, so I think it’s important to be seen to be running (rolling?) for positions like this, to show we can and should!  

Hannah Barham-Brown campaigning for EU elections


But of course, normal life doesn’t stop just because it’s election season. I’m still working as a speaker, and I was delighted to be invited to speak at the NHS Disability Summit about my experiences as a disabled doctor, and how we can support disabled people to work across the NHS. The following day, I attended the launch of #GetLippy Month, a campaign run by the Eve Appeal, of which I am a very proud Ambassador. I love that this campaign encourages women to learn what their ‘normal’ is, to use the correct words for their anatomy, and see their doctors if they have any concerns. This way, we hope to diagnose gynaecological cancers sooner and help women get the treatment they need. Along the way there are some amazing products to buy – and I do love me some lippy!

A lot of my work is with the British Medical Association; I sit on a number of committees for them and had a really great couple of days interviewing new lay members for our Patient Liaison Group. Having patients feeding into the work of the Association is vital, and I was blown away by the standard of applicants for these roles from across the UK. Alongside these two days, I had meetings of the Medical Ethics Committee, the BMA’s Council, and the GP Committee – big fan of meetings, clearly…

There has been a lot of hiking around the country, which is now easier than ever before, particularly with my bags (yeah, packing light has never been a talent). I’d like to think that June will be quieter, but somehow I doubt it. There’s always a chance I’ll get to take the new wheels to Brussels… and hell, the world won’t change itself, right?!

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