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'A rested GP is a safer GP': RCGP launches campaign urging GPs to take breaks

The RCGP has launched a new poster campaign urging GPs to take breaks to ensure patient safety.

The campaign, titled ‘Your safety should always come first’, says that the limits on hours worked by pilots, lorry drivers and train drivers should apply to GPs.

It adds that GPs have to see as many as 60 patients a day, finishing off with: ‘A rested GP is a safer GP.’

The poster will be sent to every GP practice in the UK ‘to emphasise the need for GPs and other practice staff to take regular breaks in order to prevent overtiredness and ensure safe care for their patients’, the college said.

The campaign is one of the outcomes of a report by the RCGP last year highlighting growing fatigue amongst overworked GPs.

RCGP breaks poster

RCGP breaks poster

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP and an expert in patient safety, said: ‘Most people would not get on a plane flown by a tired pilot, or jump on a train where they knew the driver had already worked a 12-hour day - and most patients would not choose to be the 40th or 50th patient at the end of a long day in surgery.’

She added: ‘We hope that our poster will encourage practices to implement regular breaks for all GPs, even as little as 10 minutes, so that we can catch our breath from the pressures of surgery.’

Readers' comments (43)

  • Patronising is a very polite way of putting it.

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  • Nothing I would like better than to take a break, but when there's a tsunami bearing down on you it's not the time to go sunbathing.

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  • Azeem Majeed

    See "Primary care: a fading jewel in the NHS crown".

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  • so I will turn a 12 hour day at work into a 13 hour day at work.

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  • The poster has pictures of people whose working hours are clearly defined in law and are monitored. That is not the case for GPs. This poster is yet another typically naive and fluffy cardie activity by Maureen. Does anyone have any respect left for her?

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  • They are just covering themselves as then they can say when asked about what they are doing to help gps if there was a future issue.... but we told them to take a break?

    If they really wanted life to be easier for GPs and allow them time to recover from the ever growing work tsunami, then they should actually work in reducing this.

    However how can GPs do this as seemingly every day there seem to be more things which keep being added to the abismally long list gps are being told to do (most of them them to be done for free in GPs own free time), by the government, GMC, NICE etc... and most of all the RCGP itself!

    If they REALLY wanted doctors to have a break for their well being, then they would target this issue. However as they do not, then these are just empty words designed to spin some concern for doctors and patients and to cover themselves legally when future disasters strikes due to excessivly worked hours by GPs.

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  • I cannot fathom why anybody would pay subs to this organisation any more. Fiddling while Rome burns. Fix the problems, stop papering over the cracks. Withdraw your support for revalidation and appraisal for a good start.

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  • Take breaks mmeeeeeehhh, CBT mmmeeeeehh, keep your hand on the fire and imagine the pain away mmmeeeehhhh

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  • Each session should last no longer than five hours, including admin. There should be a break between sessions, of at least half an hour. The RCGP could insist on this. After all the defence unions stipulate that one session is five hours.
    Of course safe working hours aren't possible if you're a partner, as you are personally responsible for meeting all the excessive and increasing demand. What a stupid self-imposed situation to be in!

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  • When Iona Heath - past president (or chair) of RCGPs worked at The Caversham Group Practice in N London they used to give themselves months long sabbaticals = for the GPs who had worked a certain number of years. Iona Heath who campaigns on other issues could add this suggestion to her portfolio of projects. Or maybe they are afraid the medics wouldn't return?! The nurses and other workers did not have the same sabbatical - they should be included too.

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