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Independents' Day

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)

  • Whilst I would agree that part of our job is to encourage trainees to experience all that GP can be, I am very concerned about the implication from head of the RCGP that we should mislead trainees with spin omitting the problems. This is not 'fully informed consent'. This is why I left the RCGP, (and had my qualification withdrawn, after I had achieved and paid for it!) - because I appear to have higher ideals and integrity that RCGP do themselves!

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  • You can take my letters....but you can't take my...... FREEDOM!

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  • But not in the NHS.
    A contract that means that as a contractor if you deliver more, appointments , nursing time etc, that you take home less; is a recipe for ongoing misery.

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  • Father to a murdered profession, husband to a murdered vocation. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.
    My name is Maximus. Maximuspissedoffenuf.

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  • In response to the interview of HSL by Pulse trainee editors-
    Just realised why HSL is so optimistic- she states she doesnt read anything by anonymous authors. She shows a wonderful understanding as to why NHS professionals often choose to write anonymously these days. Being anonymous doesnt mean that you are making your opinion up, I wonder if she also ignores anonymous whistle blowers? If she does, is that not negligent? and if she doesn't does that not imply a degree of hypocrisy? Also if she's not reading these comments why are they moderated? She just stated that these authors don't exist in her world..... in which case can she be a bit more honest when she states she represents 52000 GPs, she certainly doesnt represent me. And as this is a pseudonym and I therefore 'don't exist' can she bring her total down to 51999?
    Actually, I think her opinion is that ignoring anonymous comments isn't a powerful strategy at all, I think picking up random ones and detailing why she disagrees with them would be more useful at engaging with those GPs who as a group are disengaged from the RCGP, turning around their opinion would be an impressive mark of leadership, her current 'powerful strategy', well anyone can do that. The sticking the head in the sand is not winning over sceptics, merely reinforcing their negative opinion, not of her personally, but of their belief in her ability to make meaningful change for the better. HSL wants people to identify themselves, I understand and respect that other GPs might wish to remain anonymous, given todays political environment so why can't she?
    I found the use of the phrase 'real nastiness and personal vitriol' again a reminder why I use the phrase- 'we choose to be offended'- at her level she shouldn't be taking things personally, and again she seems guilty of hypocrisy for, on one hand, not wanting frustrated colleagues at the coal face to vent in front of their juniors and telling them that they should do it at their seniors, yet on the other hand, when some contributors do exactly what she wants and they express it directly to the top (when comments are directed at her) she ignores it if the depth of frustration felt by the contributor is such that it is expressed with anger/ disrespect? (Even though she also states in this article that she appreciates some members are very angry and embittered) I was taught a long time ago that respect was earned, through action. HSLs views expressed here, and of several of her predecessors,remind me why I lost faith in our leaders and why I emigrated. I am much better off elsewhere than in the UK under the current leadership. How long was I supposed to wait for the pendulum to swing back? (I don't think it will in the next 15-20 years) If HSL couldn't inspire me to stay, how was I supposed to inspire trainees to do what I wasn't prepared to do myself? I led by example.... took action, and left. I could happily persuade young trainees to move to my current practice, I can't recommend they leave to work in the UK.
    On a separate note..... if there were 3 men in that photo shoot would anyone be claiming that women were being under-represented in the RCGP? Not exactly a gritty feet to the fire interview.... more an opportunity to give her views...... again..... Dear Ed, the interviewers asked four questions, but they didn't interrogate the responses about a follow up article asking her to reply to readers comments?

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  • The pendulum is no longer swinging. It's being spun around in one direction like a slingshot!

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  • Even the cardigan, socks and sandal brigade are suffering a dose of depressive realism. The choice now for the College is their members or the NHSB and as usual they are choosing the NHS.
    Breaks my heart to think of what I could have bought with the 20 or so years of menbership fees I paid before I resigned. Nothing short of a really big pay increase will tempt people back into GP in the numbers required, combined with the workload controls which never materialized from the last contrick. Trouble is nobody would trust them this time even if they did it. Game over.

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  • faecal transplant, your pseudonym has cracked me up, made my day. Thank you.

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