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At the heart of general practice since 1960

12. Professor Clare Gerada

GP mental health champion

The former RCGP chair still exerts huge influence within the profession. She shoots from the hip and, as a result, can be a divisive figure – such as when she made the case for a fully salaried model.

Yet most would acknowledge she has the best interests of the profession at heart. And her crusade to raise the profile of GP mental health is a prime example of this.

She is the medical director of the Practitioner Health Programme (PHP) and the GP Health Service which, having been launched by Professor Gerada in January 2017, has now helped more than 1,000 GPs with mental illness recover and return to work. She has also set up a group for those left bereaved after a death by suicide or sudden unexpected death of a doctor.

For her efforts, PHP won the BMJ mental health team of the year in May. But Professor Gerada is still keen to extend its reach, saying she’s in the process of putting forward a case to expand it beyond London to all doctors in England.

The other responsibility to dominate her time this year will be her role as an adviser to the GMC-commissioned review of gross negligence manslaughter (GNM).

The review was launched in response to the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, which saw the junior doctor struck off the medical register following a conviction of gross negligence manslaughter, although she has now been reinstated by the Appeal Court.

Professor Gerada is one of two GP advisors on a panel of 10 healthcare experts who will analyse all aspects of how GNM cases are initiated and investigated in the UK – including the impact of any criminal investigation on the doctor involved.

She tells Pulse that not only is she creating ‘a charter for how staff in the NHS should be supported following a complaint’, but after the controversy surrounding the use of Dr Bawa-Garba’s e-portfolio in court, she is ‘lobbying for peer supervision and reflective practice groups to replace e-portfolio reflection’.

Besides all this, and presenting some 700 talks on mental illness in doctors, Professor Gerada still has time to see patients at the Hurley Group practice in Lambeth, ‘and enjoying it’, she says.

Why influential:

Although a self-described ‘general agitator’, Professor Gerada still commands the respect and has the ear of NHS England and Government leaders.

What others say:

‘She identified a profession in distress and did something about it – good for the GPs but, even more importantly, good for our patients. She is an inspiration. ‘

Random fact:

She’s secretly in awe of surgeons

 

 

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