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Negativity in general practice 'is worst I’ve known', says RCGP chair

Exclusive RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard has complained that the 'negativity' within the general practice profession is the worst she has ever known.

In an exclusive interview with two members of Pulse's trainee editorial board, she said this was 'tragic' because it was putting people off going into 'the greatest job in the world'.

And, although Professor Stokes-Lampard acknowledged that this was linked to lacking resources, she suggested experienced GPs should do their best to try to inspire GP trainees.

She said: 'The negativity is probably the worst I’ve ever known and that’s tragic because it’s putting people off doing what, to my mind, is the greatest job in the world...

'The negativity is a consequence of a whole decade of under-investment and under-resource and so it’s understandable. But it’s not helpful.'

Speaking at Pulse Live Birmingham earlier this summer, Professor Stokes-Lampard suggested that although GPs do need to vent their frustrations, they should do so only when in the company of senior colleagues.

According to Professor Stokes-Lampard, 'we know the pendulum will swing back again' and therefore GPs should 'be inspiring for the future'.

Despite this, Professor Stokes-Lampard did criticise the progress of NHS England's GP Forward View rescue package to date, describing it as ‘really not great’.

An RCGP report concluded this week that the GP Forward View is failing to have a ‘positive impact’ on GPs at the frontline, with it’s commitment to add 5,000 GPs to the workforce by 2020 in need of an ‘urgent rethink’.

But Professor Stokes-Lampard said: 'Being a GP on a good day, in a surgery that’s properly resourced and properly staffed is fantastic.

'That richness of the relationship with patients, what you can do for people and to be part of the community is so amazing. That’s why I do it, and that’s why most of us do it.'

Professor Stokes-Lampard also attempted to reassure new GPs about the future of the profession, saying that 'there’s always been a crisis in general practice' and 'there’s always been GPs frightened about the future'.

'But patients’ need for a trusted health care professional is constant,' she added.

Her words come as earlier this week, Pulse's survey of 282 GP trainees found that nearly 40% of have considered abandoning training because of stress.

Pulse's survey also found that around four in ten GP trainees intend to take on a partnership within five years of qualification, with only one in ten ruling it out at any point.

Professor Stokes-Lampard said: 'I think what will be different is the way that we work. We’ll be working in larger and larger groups... There will be partnerships but that will be one of a range of ways of delivering care.'


Readers' comments (48)

  • When will the pendulum swing back the other way? As I've been waiting a long time. And what are you doing to help it swing back, professor?

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  • National Hopeless Service

    Moral and negativity has been rubbish for years hence the damp squib of the five year forward view and the BMA damper squib of an urgent prescription for primary care.

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  • Maverick

    Just out of interest Prof HSP.... how many surgeries / on calls / patients do you see each week? How much do you pay for your indemnity?

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  • Tom Caldwell

    I wonder if that negativity could relate to horrific morale amongst a highly intelligent group of people well used to assessing complex social, psychological, economic, pathological situations and finding route causes/diagnosis/prognosis for them?

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  • Helen - bit of a reality check for you.

    The stressed trainees within the Pulse survey didn't quote the negativity amongst senior GPs. They quoted the overly onerous hoops of the eportfolio

    Hoops which the RCGP have started and maintained. Hoops which are making trainees and trainers stressed and for TPDs like me to lose the will to live during summer ARCPs.

    I'd like to think I am a good role model for my trainees by helping them achieve the career and life they want to achieve. I don't think it's because I'm happy clappy.

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  • I can see her argument but there is an equally compelling opposing argument that says tell the truth about the worst climate to try to do General Practice that I can remember in over 30 years.

    And just because the previous troughs in morale and conditions did improve doesn't mean that they are going to improve on this occasion.

    Anyway we've just been through all this.

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  • Cobblers

    "Being a GP on a good day, in a surgery that’s properly resourced and properly staffed is fantastic."

    She needed to add to that the CQC had disappeared up its own fundament, that the Daily Mail had gone bust, that the Government was paying much more, patients were reducing their demands and that the RCGP had decided to disband.

    And then the GP woke up to the awful reality. Poor pay, excessive demand, low morale and a longing to get to 55 years and retirement.

    WAKE UP. It was a wonderful job but it has been trashed by the RCGP amongst the others.

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  • Shh...not in front of the children!

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  • RCGP*
    = no NHS
    *where RCGP is square root of FA

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  • Negativity in general practice 'is worst I’ve known', says RCGP chair

    general practice 'is worst I’ve known', says every grassroot GP actually doing the job and unable to leave.

    Are the RCGP actually working GPs? Their view of our working life is not the same as mine. It's &£@t!!!!

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  • Vinci Ho

    Respect your politically correct comment, Helen.
    But for the logics of debate , one will need evidence(s) to support arguments. In this case , we are looking at the evidence for GP colleagues NOT to be 'negative'.
    Enlighten me please.

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  • Vinci Ho

    One thing our representatives must decide is whether their organisations should play an effective opposition to this government which has evidently been harming our patients with their policies of austerity, under-investment and neglect of general practice and hence , NHS. Or would they prefer an 'appeasement policy' to let the politicians to destroy what was so called 'jewel of the welfare crown' ? We serve for our patients but we never serve for any politician.
    Opposition or appeasement?
    I know what Churchill would always choose.....,.

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  • Vinci Ho

    ''Arguments about justice and rights are often arguments about the purpose, or telos, of a social institution, which in turn reflect competing notions of the virtues the institution should reward and honour .''
    Michael J Sandel

    Question here is what is the telos of the college?

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  • Dr Lampard tells us that General Practice is the best job in the world, but has devoted her own working life into distancing herself as far as possible from working as a GP. Odd.

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  • AlanAlmond

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  • It's so great that she spends most of her time doing "portfolio" work!

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  • Easy to be positive when you do 1 day as week at the coal face ,spending the rest of your time prawn-sandwiching and power pointing.The rest of us are doing 11-12 hour days with little breaks and constant pressure with no time to reflect and when we do, we wonder how can such a wonderful profession and service be made so ball bracingly awful. Sadly nobody will be held to account for this mess.
    It is difficult to be positive when there is nothing to be positive about.

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  • By the way it looks like if the pendulum swings the other way, we will be so few in number that no one will notice it has because workload will be that great.It is also very likely that the GP in the MRCGP will be virtually non existent.that will mean that the college is likely to crumble and fall.I hope it can cover its mortgage on the white elephant and the redundancy bill of its staff.Maybe you should be like coalface GPS and have a lease or builds/mortgage where you are personally liable, and you should be personally liable for the colleges redundancy bill.That would focus minds a little and help you feel like a front line troop.

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  • ***Newsflash***Attention HSL- pendulum is NOT going to swing back anytime soon..... get yourself a financial education and look at the macroeconomic picture in the UK..... again HSL shows a blinkered view, ignores reality on the ground and reveals yet again why she is incapable of delivering.... this is not negativity by the troops its observation of reality. There are 4billion people living in asia, where do you think the next area of economic growth is, the UK? China now moving into aircraft production for example.....wages have stagnated for 10 years, low wage economy, and fewer elites owning everything in the UK. Do us a favour and start campaigning on tax dodging by multinationals involved in UK healthcare, and social inequality and bring pressure to bear on conservative seats and then you actually might get somewhere.... or is a gong more important that your members?

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  • Guys
    All that has been said is true,the negativity is based on the evidence;
    1 Never so many real and perceived medical issues
    2 Never so much regulation
    3 Never so many consultants trying to use GP's as their housemen in the community
    4 Never so much documentation or litigation
    5 Never such effective taxation if you include student loan repayments
    6 Never such a bankrupt government outside of wartime
    However let us not forget if funding from the government is impossible there is only one other possible source,private work
    The profession has precious few with the knowledge skills and experience setting up private services
    Before criticising the professor too much remember she may be our only hope

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