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GPs go forth

GP burnout petitioner in talks with NHS England to discuss safe working hours

A GP who started a petition calling for safe working hours has been in talks with NHS England leaders about a cap to GP workload.

Dr Anshumen Bhagat created the petition in October following the suicide of Dr George Porteous, and has since reached almost 4,000 signatures.

Pulse can reveal that Dr Bhagat met with the deputy director for primary care from the Department of Health, Edward Scully, and NHS England director of primary care, Nikita Kanani, following the number of signatures the petition received.

Dr Ashumen Bhagat, who started the petition said: ‘Last week’s BMA survey revealing how eight out of 10 doctors are at substantial risk of burnout was a real kick in the teeth for GPs – tell us something we don’t know. For the last few years we have seen study after study telling us that GPs are struggling with work/life balance due to the pressures they are facing caused by the GP shortage, but still there are no solutions being offered.

‘The best way I can describe what is happening today, regarding the mental health crisis amongst NHS GPs is that of an unattended burning house. The research tells us there is a crisis – this is the burning house – but the issue is, no-one is calling the fire brigade, or attempting to put it out. We are all just onlooking and continuing to watch GPs take their lives each month.

‘My talks with the Department of Health’s deputy director for primary care policy, Edward Scully, and NHS England’s director for primary care Nikita Kanani about what I, and almost four thousand other GPs and their families, would like to see happen have been positive – we are due to hear back from them in response to our requests in August.’

In its official response to Pulse’s recent workload survey, which found GPs were breaching safe working limits, NHS England highlighted that almost nine in 10 salaried GPs now work part time.

What is Dr Bhagat is campaigning for?

Safe & Sustainable GPs - what the Government must do.

Supporters of the petition are requesting the following actions from the Department of Health:

1) A new government-funded study into the maximum number of sessions a GP should work per week/month that is sustainable and safe. This will assess the physical and mental strain on GPs today.

2) Introduce an increased 15-minute appointment time, to enable GPs to treat patients effectively.

3) A new General Practice Working Time Directive (GPWTD) to introduce a maximum working week/month.

4) A new promise from Government to employ an updated number of GPs, based on the new GPWTD.

5) An official channel for NHS GPs who are completing the GPWTD role to access and apply for non-patient-facing roles in the NHS and beyond to combat fatigue with variety.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I am not hopeful of meaningful change being possible for individual GP partners under the current partnership & independent contractor to the NHS model,where GPs are held hostage to the mandatory contract workload by insufficient investment & resources.
    Unless all GPs become salaried employees with the associated legally enshrined protection over their working hours,duties and time off,in the face of an historically grossly underfunded and oppressive 'John Wayne' like contract (where the practice is seemingly found to be responsible for everything & everyone for less than this would actually cost),how can principals in partnership 'cap' their workload exactly?
    At the end of the day they are deemed legally responsible for meeting the terms of the GP contract and,sadly,our representatives seem perpetually unable to negotiate realistic financing for this.
    The fact that the financial and manpower resources available to practices are increasingly inadequate to meet the unending demands of our contracts will be unchanged despite these 'talks' with NHS England about the effect of this toxic pincer grip on individual GPs trying in vain to bridge the gap on a personal level.
    I suspect little will change with either the range of responsibilities expected nor the level of funding provided until & unless it is NHS England & HM Government who are legally expected to provide the financial and staffing resources required to safely meet the terms of the negotiated contracts.
    Even then,the history of failure to fully meet the actual costing of the genuine demands on secondary care services adequately and the numbers of hospitals running in crippling financial deficit doesnt bode well.

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