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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)

  • 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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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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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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