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GPs go forth

GPs 'should look out for' signs of mental illness in colleagues

GPs should be on the lookout for signs of mental illness in their colleagues amid a rise in ‘stressful’ negligence claims, a defence organisation has warned.

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) said GPs needed more support than is currently on offer, including from colleagues and employers, as they are often reluctant to seek help themselves.

MPS said that working in an increasingly litigious environment, with GPs experiencing a record number of negligence claims, was taking a toll, with a recent survey of 600 GPs revealing that nine in 10 who were subject to a clinical negligence claim said it had had a negative impact on stress and anxiety levels.

MPS medico-legal adviser Dr Pallavi Bradshaw said that in the organisation’s experience GPs ‘may also be reluctant to seek help from a fellow practitioner for fear of being perceived as unable to cope’ and that it can be difficult for GPs ‘to take on the patient role’.

But she added: ‘Doctors have a professional obligation to consider the impact that their or a colleague’s health could have on the care they provide to patients.’

A BMA survey of over 15,000 GPs recently showed that close to one in five GPs experienced significant and unmanagable work-related stress and Pulse reported in December that four in 10 GPs had either taken time off or were expecting to take time off for burnout.

It comes as Pulse has also warned of NHS England defunding local occupational health support services for GPs around the country while existing support services say they are ‘overwhelmed’ by demand.

Readers' comments (10)

  • what we also ignore is that apart from stressful job that few want to do anymore we are also human and suffer bereavements, divorce, illness etc. The emphasis has always been on how our problems will affect the care to patients. there is little support to help doctors who have problems. this is strange as doctors are expensive to train and replace. I sense a rebellion as if the state and Quangos continue to disregard and disrespect doctors - eventually enough doctors are going to say 'stuff the public - i'm going to think about myself and my family'. This will only mean a move to total private healthcare.

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  • Even if you see signs of burnout / mental fatigue not illness that can affect performance. BUT how can you help out a colleague when the whole team is strained and seeing more patients, more hospital letters, more meetings to attend, idiotic ideas to fulfil eg admission avoidance DES etc.

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  • Correct me if I'm wrong but a doctor diagnosed with depression needs to inform the GMC? And then the GMC can...

    Time to scrap this despotic regulation for a judicial process anybody?

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  • All my partners including myself are showing signs of stress and burnout. More than just signs in fact - one has had some time off and another is teetering on the brink.
    Primary care in this area is on the edge of collapse and I do not see what Mr Hunt can do except try to put the brake on demand and expectation. I fear that any changes will come too late - the only slight consolation is that the right political party will get to carry the can for it all.

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  • One of my partners killed himself. It was his death that has prevented my suicide last year although I was too scared to seek help from my GP or mental health services for fear of being reported to the GMC for being unfit to practice No-one except my partner knew and I didn't take even one day off. Get out of partnership, no matter what the financial consequences, no matter what the stigma. You will have succeeded by surviving. It's not easy but better to see another day, and another than to leave your kids without their mum or dad.

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  • I hope someone in power is reading the above comments and taking notes. GMC? CQC? every other quango? No..didn't think so. To busy chasing what the patients "perceived" complaints were and sending out letters stating "your revalidation is on hold" , you are guilty in our eyes until proven innocent, and making the doctors close to the edge jumping off the wagon. As the first comment says, look after yourself, spend time with your family and loved ones. They are the ones who will be there when the GMC suspends you while they investigate a vexatious complaint , your partners stab you in the back and your are sick or unable to work for any reason.

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  • @ 10.49

    They don't care. Nicely tucked up and hiding behind their desks making a nice living out of the likes of us with zero risk to themselves. Farce. They need to go. A proper judicial process would serve doctors far better than these cowboys. Scrap the GMC and go private / semi private like the dentists after they were dumped on and decided they had had enough. Job done.

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  • Friends Romans Country Men be ware anonymous is never anonymous and it's not like we are talking to small fish
    When you fight a multi million dollar enterprise and you are trying to dissolve it they will find you unless they think you are ......Hanz Gruber said so in Die Hard (uncanny references isn't it )
    And let's be honest how many of us still wear a vest and actually look good in it .--yippee Kay aye chemosavvy

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  • Immense support to 10:37

    Been there, nearly done that big time!

    And yes, I came in under the radar till the "shit hit hit the fan"

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  • My stress comes from the Appraisal process which I HATE with passion. Everyday I am involved or experience any activity which is educational but UNABLE to record it due to various reasons. On my last apparaisal I lost weight and felt burnt out over a period of 7-10 days. GMC needs to be pragmatic in these changing times-and call spade a spade. GP shortage/demoarlisation will ONLY affect the governmnet & GMC

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