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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GP's tragic death is a warning to PCOs to nurture their workforces

As general practice moves inexorably towards 'points mean prizes' it would be interesting to know why the psychological issues attendant in 30-40 per cent of primary care consultations are the recipients of 4 per cent of the 'quality' points.

Depression is now the third commonest reason for a consultation with a GP, and, as the tragic death of Dr Stephen Farley and your survey remind us (News, February 23), we are all, doctors and patients, 'people first'.

Dr Farley took his head and his heart into all his work and his family, primary care, his practice, patients and community will now grieve his loss.

If the Government is advocating a Swiss cheese model for 'near misses' in prescribing then Dr Farley is an illustration of a mid-air collision between the bean-counting, laptop-bearing, turbo-charged 'performance' NHS and values-driven individuals who enter the caring professions and serve their patients for decades with minimal, if any, support.

The details of this case published thus far are close to repellant. The results of the announced inquiry should inform best practice in NHS PCT cheese-manufacture in terms of personal development, support, mentoring and supervision so that their practice conforms more to cheddar than gruyere.

This is not an option either, it is about standards one and seven of the national service framework and the National Suicide Prevention Strategy as it applies to doctors, who are specifically named within it.

It is even more ironic when one considers that Dr Farley's PCT, along with others, are now ticking their boxes on the Improving Working Lives initiative targets. It is to be hoped that CHAI start paying far more attention to this aspect of NHS acute and primary care trust activities.

Workforce capacity and demand on the NHS are, in the end, going to determine the most important outcomes and it would be wise for PCOs to start thinking about how they care for, nurture and value their workforces. In my travels around the UK I still see scant attention being paid to this matter.

Dr Chris Manning

PRIMHE

(primary care mental health and education)

www.primhe.org 

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