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GP 'resilience' coaches to persuade burnt out colleagues to stay on

Exclusive NHS England is planning to train 160 GPs to coach colleagues in resilience to cope with stress and burnout and managing workload.

The courses being run by Health Education England (HEE) and the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM) will teach GPs to train colleagues to improve work/life balance, recognise signs of stress and burnout, better manage conflicts and find solutions to problems.

NHS England would not reveal the size of the funding for the programme, which it said is commercially sensitive, but said it forms part of the £10m, 10-point plan to improve GP recruitment and retention.

FMLM, an organisation set up jointly by the medical royal colleges in 2011 to ’improve medical leadership’, said the coaching was aimed at GPs thinking of returning to or leaving practice, by helping them to:

  • Improve work/life balance and feel more in control at work;
  • Increase ability to identify solutions to work related issues;
  • Build greater confidence in managing conflict and having difficult conversations in the workplace;
  • Build greater self-awareness of the symptoms of stress and burnout.

The invitation from FMLM says: 'FMLM has been funded by NHS England to offer up to four free coaching sessions to GPs in England who are either thinking of giving up practice or have recently returned to general practice after a break.

'Our expert coaches are experienced in coaching doctors and understand the issues GPs currently face. They are available to support GPs who feel they have reached  a crossroads – or the end of the road – in general practice.’

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘As part of our commitment to help GPs, NHS England has commissioned a number of coaching programmes offering GPs the chance to train as coaches and support one another in managing stress and workload. Evidence shows this approach is an effective way of helping GPs remain in practice.

'So far we have commissioned 160 places on coaching courses which will enable GPs to train as coaches and offer coaching support to colleagues across the system. FMLM is one of the organisations delivering the coaching training programme with the others being delivered by Health Education England.’

Family Doctor Assciation chair Dr Peter Swinyard said the FDA had floated this idea to NHS England a few months ago to retain older GPs to ’do a job which was not coping with the persisting stress of front-line practice but retaining their wisdom and channelling it to help struggling GPs and practices. So [we are] very positive about it and hope that is does not get mired in a sea of bureaucracy.’

Although the deadline for applying to the next course expires this week, NHS England said this was only for the April cohort and any GP wanting information on the continuing scheme can contact the NHS Leadership Academy via

The GMC last year proposed to introduce ‘emotional resilience’ into medical training, following comments from its chair Professor Terence Stephenson that doctors should have emotional resilience similar to soldiers in Afghanistan.  

Battling burnout 

The 10-point plan to improve GP recruitment and retention, announced last January, included plans for ’reviewing how to incentivise experienced GPs to remain in practice’. 

The plans also include a new national occupational health support service, which NHS England has said will be rolled out regionally from April to help GPs with burnout and stress.

Pulse’s Battling Burnout campaign has demanded that NHS England provides comprehensive support to GPs struggling with stress and burnout since conducting the largest-ever survey of GP burnout in the UK in 2013, showing almost half of GPs (46%) were at risk.

The most recent Pulse Battling Burnout survey, carried out last year, showed that the number of GPs at high risk of burnout had reached 50%.

Readers' comments (75)

  • FFS!

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  • Classic!

    So is this a scheme to help 160 people affected by burnout by training them to do work that isn't direct clinic work!

    I am pretty sure if I saw a 'coach' it would go like this:

    Coach: 'What do YOU think is the answer to:'

    1. Improve work/life balance and feel more in control at work

    Me: work less

    2. Increase ability to identify solutions to work related issues

    Me: stop trying to solve patient's problems myself and make greater use of outpatients, walk in centre and a/e - after all they would appreciate the extra funding.

    3. Build greater confidence in managing conflict and having difficult conversations in the workplace

    Me: If there is conflict try to refer the patient to hospital. Stop asking your staff to work harder, ensure the work goes to hospitals or A/E

    4. Build greater self-awareness of the symptoms of stress and burnout.

    Me: oh I'm stressed and burnt out - Retire, Locum or Emigrate ASAP!

    Coach: 'next'

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  • It's a classic diversionary tactic which puts the blame for the problem onto GPs being unable to cope instead of the NHS accepting any responsibility for making the job unsustainable. In addition, it allows NHSE to claim it is working to alleviate the GP crisis.

    Any GP who takes part in being trained as a resilience coach is therefore betraying the whole profession by taking part in NHSE's diversion of the blame onto GPs. Sadly, I expect there will be plenty cardies who can't wait to take part and who can't see the big picture - Lenin called them "useful idiots" and there is no shortage of them in GP land.

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  • Like appraisal and revalidation this is more bulshit GP's are signing themselves into.

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  • Why do doctors, who managed to achieve during the tumultuous changes of adolescence, stick the long course through university and retain their independence of thought and responsibility in the unsupported junior doctor roles, all the while funding and passing exams and bureaucratic assessments, suddenly need resilience training as a GP?
    99% of the population would have left during the first term of medical school, let alone the first month of each 6 month hospital rotation for 5-10 years after graduation.
    Could it be the job is underfunded leading to intense working for those who remain?
    NHSE needs a bit of Matthew 7:5 I think.

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  • TTFO

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  • This is like blaming a rape victim for their ordeal. Truely astounding.

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  • I really do not think that a portfolio part time GP would have halted my departure from UK but lovely work if you can do it....

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  • Some bright pen pusher's solution to workload problems.
    Generate more paper work to keep their own jobs and take more clinicians away from seeing patients so the existing ones get burnout and need more pen pushing "support".

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