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GPs to access free burnout service from January 2017

GPs will be able to access a free confidential service to provide them with psychotherapy assessment and treatment from January 2017, NHS England has announced today.

The service, which NHS England chief executive said was a result of Pulse’s Battling Burnout campaign, will cost £19.5 million – an increase on the £16 million originally announced.

Under the service, GPs will be able to access face-to-face support across 13 regions in England for general psychiatric assessment and treatment, addiction related health problems and one-to-one and group psychotherapy sessions.

It will be run by the Hurley Clinic Partnership, whose partner Professor Clare Gerada currently provides the NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP).

Dr Gerada also told Pulse that they were working to make sure the existing PHP service could be opened up to doctors from outside London before the new year, so they could immediately begin supporting those who needed help most.

The new national service will be accessible via a confidential national self-referral phone line, website and app, NHS England says.

GPs and trainees will be able to seek information about the services available, access self-help tools and access clinical support.

An NHS England statement said: ‘The service is the world’s first nationally-funded health service of its kind for general practice, a clear signal of NHS England’s commitment to help retain a healthy and resilient workforce and in supporting GPs and GP trainees who wish to remain in or return to clinical practice after a period of ill health.’

Pulse first launched its Battling Burnout campaign in 2013, with a survey of 1,800 GPs finding that 46% are at high risk of burnout.

In May 2014, NHS England chair Professor Malcolm Grant said it would offer a ‘comprehensive’ burnout service for GPs.

However, it was only a year later – in September 2015 – that Mr Stevens confirmed plans for a new ‘national specification’ for the service.

And in April 2016, the GP Forward View said that NHS England would devote £16 million funding to the burnout service.

But the latest announcement has revealed that it will increase the funding to £19.5 million, with the extra coming from ’Primary Care Transformation funding’, NHS England said.

Dr Gerada told Pulse: ‘This really is good news, it’s the first time - I think anywhere in the world - that public money has been put toward supporting a profession in this way.

‘And we’re going to try and develop, right from prevention to treatment, a whole range of services right across the country.’

‘The national service will only be for GPs, unlike the PHP service in London which is for all clinicians, and will go live in the regions in January, but Dr Gerada told Pulse: ‘Even before then, if there are struggling GPs able to travel to London before we get the system up and running across the country, then we can try and accommodate that early. They don’t need to suffer in silence now. We can start address those who need our help the most immediately, not today or tomorrow, but hopefully in the next two to three weeks.’

‘There’s no bad about this, it’s really good for GPs, and it’s right to recognise Pulse for [their work on this].’

 

 

Readers' comments (36)

  • Will face to face contact be available outside of the M25 though? Phone lines already exist.

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  • Cynic mode on - No. You can't resign / reduce workload / change working patterns because of workload & stress. You cannot have those problems because we have set up a helpline and you have not contacted it or they will help you cope with the workload - cynic mode off

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  • Mr Mephisto

    It cant come soon enough. I'm not sure I will be able to survive until January!

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  • This is disgraceful, no employer could get away with this, it is only because GPs are self employed and therefore NHS England escapes legal and moral responsibility that it gets away with this.

    If an employer is causing breakdwons and burn-outs of its staff, it can not get around it by having a helpline. The only cure, legally and morally, is to stop whatever is causing the burnout.

    But GPs and their useless chocolate teapot union are too timid to see this.

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  • It is the business model of the NHS that causes the burnout. GP's are on a block contract with no safety valve to curb demand, payment by activity would prevent burnout as there would be a financial incentive to absorb the work and pay someone else to do it. Until that changes having a helpline or visiting a counsellor without backfill just means more burnout as the work does not go away.

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  • This is a great idea but the service will be over run. It's also a bit ironic that patients doctors care for, have to wait 12 months for psychology as there aren't enough. Where are these psychotherapists coming from?

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  • Forgive my cynicism, or is this not an 'establishment helping establishment' move...

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  • Dear Clare, the "bad" thing about this is that it has become necessary at all. Just like Hunt and his 4 (currently) years' obligatory NHS commitment, it is addressing the adverse results of the current system rather than fixing the cause.

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  • Many good things about helping stressed sick doctors overcome barriers and access services they need.

    BUT as with all working people, unless combined with evidence based advice and action on reducing workplace risks by responsible employer will not address fundamental problems - that's why access to occupational medicine is needed!

    Richard Heron
    President, Faculty Occ Medicine

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  • As a psychotherapist with many years experience of working with doctors, I am clear (a) that there may be other, private and personal factors involved in psychological problems and at the same time that (b) no therapist worth his/her salt would treat burnout/stress without trying to support and encourage their client to take the problem where it belongs - unions, managers, etc. I hope this service provides proper, anonymous and confidential feedback channels for the issues its therapists encounter and that they will be properly briefed so that they do not make the mistake of blaming the patient for the system's failings.

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  • David Wrigley

    If the govt made a decision to fund the NHS to the level of EU average then it wouldn't be necessary to have a 'burnout helpline' for doctors on the verge of a breakdown. Shame on NHS England and shame on this govt.

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  • The service will enrich provider.
    Psychology can't solve GP burnout.
    I tried it...told get out of job

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  • I had a great cure for my burnout. It's called resigning from partnership. All the counselling in the world would not enable me to have the solid nights sleep I now experience, free from contract.

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  • I was taught that when someone has work stress there is no point having time off treating depression etc then coming back to exact same job as same thing will happen. They have to discuss changes to the job with their boss or I keep signing them off.
    That doesn't seem to be happening here.
    Its a bit like losing weight on the Atkins diet or whatever than going back to your old diet that made you fat but expecting not to get fat again.
    I think Einstein said something about idiots expecting different outcomes when continueing to do the same thing didn't he?

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  • To avoid confusion, the tailored and targeted psychotherapy for GPs should best be called HURLEYTHERAPY

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  • I'll have to be careful or my sympathetic tho' frank comments may be blocked as they were from the Editor's blog !!

    I'm delighted for GPs that they will soon have rapid free access for help with stress related conditions. As Victoria Cleak courageously points out, I agree, it's a pity that, because of the shortage of NHS psychotherapists & counsellors, the GP's patients in similar states will have to wait for months if they can't afford £60 +/hr for private help !
    Dare I suggest too that it's not only GPs who are at risk of 'burnout' in the NHS AND other 'caring' professions !
    Also, as the psychotherapist contributor points out, personal & external circumstances often HAVE to change for recovery to take place. Perhaps it is unfair to put all the blame on 'needy' & demanding patients when the responsibility for the cause lies elsewhere ?

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  • Where are the therapists coming from-isn't there supposedly a shortage for the rest of the population? Anyone need a nice part time job?

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  • You and I both Shaba. Too late........

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  • Dear anonymous

    I have never surveyed anyone on burn out !

    I have treated 3000 doctors with mental health problems

    And the money divided by number of GPs works out at around £63 per GP per year - so not sure that's going to go far if handed to each rather than provide a coordinated service

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  • Was experiencing 'burnout', overloaded and firefighting every day,exhausted,losing empathy, feeling beaten and low. Getting home later every night too tired to eat and with a strange total body tingling feeling and palpitations ?

    Drained at the prospect of keeping up with appraisal requirements and CQC standards to be met. Patients complaining about a deteriorating service. Unable to recruit additional doctors. Thought about accessing mental health support to keep me functioning on 'the front line' and support my equally distressed colleagues.

    Then I had a simple thought - submit my resignation. It worked - I can now function as a human being again. All the previous grim feelings have resolved. Cured!

    I have every sympathy for my colleagues still trapped in a now hellish job role. Only those who do the job will really understand what that means.

    None of us signed up for the nightmare it has become.

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  • Hypothetical scenario:

    Troubled Doctor:"I found the job so stressful that I have developed a drink/drug (eithers applicable)problem and I need help to get back to wellness".

    Counsellor (placing sheet of paper under Troubled Doctors face): "Are these details, including your GMC number correct? Yes? Can you excuse me one moment?"
    Counsellor exits stage left and makes a quick phone call to the GMC.

    Next scene- taking place in Troubled Doctors home.
    Troubled Doctors Wife:"Honey, there's an official looking-letter here from the GMC for you.I'll leave it on the table for you".

    I will leave scene 3 of this gripping play to your imagination.

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  • Dear Dr. Minhas,

    Here's another scenario ;

    Consultant Obstetrician ; I'm sorry, Dr. Minhas, your baby was stillborn. Unfortunately, the doctor, who was looking after your wife in labour, was drunk & didn't take seriously that the foetal heartbeat had become so slow & irregular. However, you will be pleased to know that the poor doctor is receiving counselling for his drink problem.

    I will leave the next scene to your imagination !

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  • Too little too late, GPS for GPS was advocated for Health Professionals years ago.
    Ironically the NHS has been one of the few organisations without a proper Occupational Health Service.
    I would probably still be in practice had this been the case

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  • Dr Minhas .... Fictional story above .. Totally loses the plot .... And takes out Hunt...
    The public wake up to big headlines
    It gets spun into some immigration issue instead
    Public remains oblivious to the state of the NHS

    Further Millions diverted to quangos and cronies
    Specifically targeting Asian doctors

    If you are easily offended
    Takes out hunt
    Means go to a restaurant

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  • The job of being a GP Partner is truly awful. The workload is overwhelming. My friends think that the stress comes from seeing patients with terminal illness and complex health problems. That causes no stress at all.
    The stress comes from Docman,complaints,Ombudsman,CQC,QOF,law cases,scripts,poor secondary care,all matters being dumped on the GP,staff issues,problems with the premises,financial collapse,constant interruptions.
    The service won't be used much. We are too busy to access it. The problem lies in the job--not our ability to cope with it.
    Until I get out my own solution is to refuse to do as much as I can. I do the essential tasks and cut as mant corners as I can. Totally agains my ethos when I started the job. I just aim to survive each day. Taking one day at a time.

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  • I think the anon contribution above sums up burnout problem- Coping 'until I can get out' is exactly why I joined in with a pilot scheme and found my sessions very beneficial personally as well as professionally -as it will be a few years until I can realistically 'get out', being family breadwinner.It might come under the heading of firefighting but there will be plenty of gps who deserve and need something like this even while other solutions are being found,hope you will go for it.Here I am posting a 'positive ' comment for a change,after all!

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  • Dear June Greaves, I absolutely agree that the crisis in the NHS is affecting many groups - GP Receptionists, nurses, pharmacists, and patients. We need to support each other, and all lobby for better funding.

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  • Thank you, Dr. Johnston,

    Let us not, in our personal struggle to survive, fall into the trap of believing that there are only 'deserving' ill ! Ironically, we shall ALL end up, sooner or later, as patients !

    United we stand, divided we fall !

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  • Dr Gerada, I would love to interview your grown up kids to know more about your coping strategies when you are stressed. Did you ever get stressed? RCGP is not a stressful job, other than changing few tubes in london, or to keep claim forms. I don think you ever worked full time or you have capacity to work full time as a GP. How did you cope with your A levels. I know there was no MRCGP exam during your time. Can you please reply if possible.

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  • Dr Gerada has a whole series of practices in London run by salaried GP's
    and is like a corporate GP.
    She may not know stress herself but pretty sure those in the practices, like other practices, do

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  • Pretty certain that if you are in such a state to need such a service then it ishould be on the basis of a full occupational support package
    1. LOCUM cover provided
    2. Unwell doctor off on agreed leave
    3. Occupational health based supervision
    4. resolution of work based causes
    5. Return only when fit to do so
    As such the funding should go to all local CCG's
    To commission this provision locally

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  • You could just ditch the contract comrades.

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  • Too little, too late. I have left the performers list.

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  • I would be v interested to know who tendered for this contract and the bids submitted.
    Very interesting to see it was given to a company run by a GPwho is also in a GP practice that had a less than favourable CQC inspection.
    If I required a service like I would want to feel confident that I wasn't a means of financial gain for a 'corporate' team of doctors. I would also want to be reassured that the doctor 'in charge' had a well functioning GP practice so I could feel confident that my best interests were considered and I could have professional and personal confidence in the clinical service offered to me.

    If offence is taken by my posting, none has been intended. ( I have included this as mods seem to be pulling a few threads)

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