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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)

  • The Prof is confusing sine waves with col Ny collapse curves.

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  • I believe in being HONEST with my registrars. I try to help them become an excellent GP. BUT explain that even with all the skills and knowledge, working as GP in the NHS will not enable them to fulfil their potential as a GP.They need to understand what factors in their working environment impede their ability to adequately and safely care for their patients.Without this knowledge they cannot make decisions about what /where they will practice when they have completed their training.
    If I was their age I would be looking long and hard at all the systems in other countries to find one which I can practice happily in . It would not be the UK.

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  • Improve appraisal . Ns end more resilience packs. Pay more to college examiners to do better jobs. Get your prorities in focus to market general practice or ....

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  • I find it a little difficult to see how reducing our funding, reducing our autonomy, increasing regulation and increasing our administrative workload will result in the pendulum swinging back in favour of general practice as a career choice. At the moment, there's little about UK general practice to appeal to graduates who, above all else, want to be doctors.

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  • AlanAlmond

    How on earth does this person get to be 'representing' us?
    The role of the RCGP is to set academic standards and guide training. It is not a political organisation. Forever we get lectures from self important RCGP chairs grandstanding their personal opinions. Cant you put a sock in it and concentrate on your job? You have no real mandate to be lecturing your colleagues.

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  • The point is I think that the RCGP is an organisation that is funded by the poor mugs who take their exam. An exam that has been made longer and harder to pass as the years go by. We are being asked to not put off trainees who haven't yet parted with their money.
    Personally I can't understand why the head of an exam factory thinks she can speak for GPs as a whole, where is her mandate?

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  • RCGP should hibernate for few weeks or months. All GPs will forget everything soon. You will be in our good list soon. Just like cqc, before inspection we hated them, if passed we told other people how good we are, and how hard we worked for cqc inspection.
    can pulse write article or do some research how CQC inspectors are helping inadequate surgeries for money. I know conflict of interest doesn't exist for LMC, CCG, Federations and CQC inspectors.

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  • Healthy Cynic

    Oh dear Prof. Lampard, looking at these comments your statement seems to have fostered some GP negativity. The worst I've seen in fact.
    Leadership is not about running down your colleagues.

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  • Once again RCGP stokes the embers to fire emotions. Somebody does 'elect' these glib talkers who seem to be living on a different planet altogether.

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  • there are a few simple things that could be done which will cost nil. Scrap eportfolio, simplify appraisal, reduce CQC burden, scrap QOF, spend your time focusing on indemnity issues.

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  • Vinci Ho

    To Madam ,with love
    (Inspired by Sir Sydney Poitier)
    Dear Chair,
    First of all , you do not need to reflect on this comment as I am never a member but at least I am not anonymous.
    It is my opinion that you were a breath of fresh air when first being elected just over 12 months ago. My expectation was perhaps you could be the charming girl who pointed out to everybody that the emperor was in fact, wearing no clothes instead of new ones. Being disappointed so far , one would still want to give you the benefit of doubt on a learning curve.

    It is a fact that there is much negativity circulating in our profession and will become unhealthy to our young colleagues. To do 'something' about this is politically correct.
    However , there is a difference between treating the symptoms and the origin.Surely ,you are well experienced for this argument as a senior colleague in general practice.
    ''Every matter has its origin and final form ; every event has its beginning and the end . Only if one understands what comes before and after , the 'great way' is near to be acquired.'' Great Learning
    All these negatives we are talking here did not develop in one day with no explanation. And they are not confined to the older colleagues and those teaching our trainees . Think about how our younger colleagues felt after their defeat by the government on their industrial actions in more than one occasions. We are at war , precisely war of politics , with the government . The day our longest serving health secretary in history said he was not 'picking a fight with GPs' , this war was declared . His infamous comment of underfunding GP was a 'penance' of our contract in 2004 , demonstrated his belligerence towards this profession. Frankly, we are not traditionally trained for fighting a war like this as we only want to look after our patients , rather than involving in politics. Not knowing how to tackle these politicians with undoubtedly hidden agenda(s) had led to this vicious cycle of negativity. We looked up to the ones elected to represent us but they were too stuck in a political ambiguity by a baggage of staying politically correct in front of the public . The words ' no better time to be GPs' were exploited by the previous prime minister in House of Commons and his conclusion was 'crisis , what crisis?' Then our well established medical journal published an academic study of investigating the pattern of mortalities between weekdays and weekends. This was immediately hijacked by our clever health secretary and this provided the basis of the seven days GP opening policy (without extra new
    investment of resources). It is not surprising BMJ is so much politicised and anti-government in tone these days.
    The ideal politics in a war is the type which requires the least amount of physical conflicts.
    In Chengdu , China , there is a couplet posted on the wall outside a temple paying tribute to the arguably most intelligent military strategist in Chinese history,Zhuge Liang(諸葛亮). Those who had played video games(or watched films)involving the famous Three Dynasties period(184/220-280 AD) would be familiar with him .
    The couplet read :
    ''Playing the mind-games properly , the enemies would self-neutralise by itself .
    It is well known through history that soldiers do not really want to be belligerent.
    Without a throughout analysis of the current circumstances , either a flexible(liberal) or harsh(restrictive) strategy will create mistakes .
    Always rule my country(Shu) with careful consideration, not once , not twice but thrice.''
    The mind games this government had played on us were numerous and it is time for playing ours . The good news is this government is weakening and zombified .
    From Capita to Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) , resilience funding to premises support etc , the word hypocrisy only kept repeating itself . The caveat of genuinely hurting our patients has become more and more plausible.The careless whisper of 'Public sector workers are overpaid' revealed the true mentality of a government willing to sacrifice people's well being for better economy and GDP rise.
    Winston Smith worked for Ministry of Truth in 1984 but never really wanted to lose his soul and true identity . He was not allowed to show any negativity towards the establishment and his fate was clearly sealed with a drop of melancholia.
    Even the government's own propaganda media and organisations have been exposing negative 'facts' .Based on objective facts , we can make subjective comments. I believe that is what we have been doing on this platform, even though you may not like the negative tone of them. Making no mistake , we are not deluded that these comments represent the opinion(s) of the majority. Certainly , we condemn character assassination as it represents verbal abuse and violence. The level of anger and frustration amongst all medical frontline workers is historical and phenomenal . This is also true to those who care about domestic issues and social justice in this country.

    Watched The Good , The Bad and The Ugly(1966) again after 40 years. What inspired me the most was the poignant speech of the Captain of the Unionist in last part of the film against the backdrop of the brutal civil war:
    Soldiers on both sides were reek of alcohol and really did not continue fighting. It was only a bureaucratic argument from the 'headquarter' that his army had to defend this bridge connecting to their enemies , no matter how many soldiers died as a result. He wanted to bomb the bridge but he did not have the guts to disobey the higher order. So the Good(Blondie) and the Ugly(Tuco) blew up the bridge and stopped the two sides fighting as they themselves wanted to get hold of some gold coins on the other side of the river. It was all about self interest ultimately whether you were good , bad or ugly. After the bridge was blown , the first person the Good came across was a young , not old , soldier dying of his fatal wounds.......

    As far as those who are still respectably enthusiastic about training our younger colleagues, I quoted what was said in To Sir, with love (1967):
    Barbara Pegg: Well, Sir, you're like us, but you ain't, I mean, you're not. It's kinda scary, but nice. You know what I mean, don't you?
    Mark Thackeray: Well, I... I don't know how to answer you, except to say that I teach you truths. My truths. Yeah, and it is kinda scary, dealing with the truth. Scary, and dangerous...

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  • Dear Chair,
    "The THUTH, the whole TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH" is the basis of HONEST dealings.
    If you did say: "if GPs do need to vent their frustrations, they should do so only when in the company of senior colleagues," then you expect GPs to withhold the truth from their juniors and in effect lure them into a fool's paradise.
    Then, unfounded NEGATIVITY - a well established characteristic of several psychiatric conditions. I presume RCGP is currently preparing (with the help of PULSE-Learning) "Ten Tips to Conquer Negative Thinking" with a 3-hr CPD credit, which will help us enormously to hit impossible targets and meet meteoric indemnity fees.
    I remain your ...etc etc

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  • 'We'll be working in larger and larger groups'
    No doubt owned by Branson and other of Jeremy's pals.
    Where does this fit in with GP ethos and continuity of care?
    What conflicts of interest are hiding in the RCGP cellar?

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  • I'll try again, as was moderated last time. Apologies. This time quoting directly from Wikipedia, so should not offend:

    'Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen'

    I was just trying to make an allegory for the current situation with the RCGP and the grass-roots GP workforce.

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  • might be the greatest job in the world as an acedemic and well paid RCGP chair.. but those of us who have just finished morning surgery at 242pm with pm surgery starting at 3pm arent so happy.. perhaps if the RCGP chair recognised that... id be keener to be a member

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  • I'm so upset by this lady that I need a colouring book...

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  • she should be pointing out the problems and trying to fix them not glossing over them and asking us to ignore them and not talk about them.
    Very suspicious way to behave. One wonders about the motivation.

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  • Cobblers

    Editor's comments

    This comment has been moderated.

    Rather a lot of these.

    Mine was redacted as I referred to HSL as a "dozy bint" in the context of "WAKE UP you dozy bint".

    I suppose bint could be construed as mildly offensive but it is mild and should not be removed.

    Perhaps the editor could write a 'Viewpoint' on what could be considered removable and why?

    Genuine request. am getting cheesed off at the censorship.

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