How we are measuring GP welfare
In recent years, health bodies have become increasingly concerned about the declining numbers of GPs to serve local communities. This situation is particularly significant across the area served by the Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) which, according to Health Education England, has the most significantly challenged primary care workforce in the country.
Local data shows continued difficulty in attracting new GPs. The key contributing factors to this recruitment challenge are poor GP morale, increasing workload pressures and a high retirement rate (an average of 33% of mid and south Essex GPs are over 55, compared to 21% nationally).
As in many CCGs and STPs, there are plans in mid and south Essex to address GP recruitment as part of a wider primary care improvement strategy aligned to the national GP Forward View and long-term plan. This approach includes workforce diversification, patient navigation and self-care, amongst other measures, such as mechanisms to address ongoing primary care demand. However, the Mid and South Essex STP is unique in assessing the impact of these interventions on the wellbeing and morale of its 600+ GPs.
The Maslach Burnout Inventory will annually measure emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishment
A partnership between the five local CCGs, LMC and Anglia Ruskin University, which has a campus in mid Essex, is using the Maslach Burnout Inventory to assess the level of burnout within their GP population. The Maslach is widely recognised as a leading measure of workplace burnout, with over 35 years of research into its use since initial publication. It has also been adapted for use with medical personnel.
Dr Brian Balmer, of Essex Local Medical Committee, said: ‘We want our GPs to know we are focusing on interventions that improve things for them. We understand how difficult it has been for local GPs in recent times and we want to ensure our plans make improvements where it counts. By measuring GP burnout in our GP partners and salaried GPs, as well as locums and registrars, we hope to demonstrate that improvements in GP wellbeing and morale can be made. In mid and south Essex, GP wellbeing is paramount in protecting the future of primary care.’
The Maslach Burnout Inventory will specifically measure emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishment on an annual basis for over 600 GPs in mid and south Essex.
The local partnership aims to publicise results from the study to improve understanding of the impact primary care improvement interventions have on GP wellbeing and work-life balance.
Daniel Doherty is deputy acountable officer and director of clinical transformation for Mid Essex CCG
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