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GPs given chance to anonymously raise concerns about colleagues' burnout

An LMC has created a web tool allowing GPs to anonymously raise concerns about colleagues they feel are putting themselves at risk of burnout.

Doncaster LMC has launched its ‘Concerned about a colleague’ reporting tool, an entirely confidential service which allows GPs or practice staff to highlight GPs who may be in need of pastoral support.

The service allows reporters to give details of their concerns, and they can highlight whether they wish to be contacted by the LMC should more detail be needed.

The page also directs to local and national support services and states: ‘NHS General Practice is under unprecedented pressure.  As such, we are all at risk of work related stress, burn out and depression.’

‘Often, the symptoms of these are insidious and can be more obvious to those around us than to ourselves.  So, if you have concerns about a colleague and feel that they need our support, we’d like to hear from you.’

Doncaster LMC medical secretary Dr Dean Eggitt, told Pulse: ‘If you recognise a colleague is struggling, whatever signs and symptoms you see, you let us know in confidence and we will take that information and try to provide support around that GP. This is the start of the process.’

The scheme came about after a ‘warts and all’ discussion, at a recent LMC meeting on the pressures being felt by GPs in the area where Dr Eggitt says ‘there was a moment of reflection where we thought we could have been more proactive in helping them, rather than waiting for it to come to a head.’

Dr Eggitt added: ‘The next stage is to talk to our CCG to ask for funding for a GP psychiatric rapid referral support structure.  So we can have, for example, Sheffield GPs referred to Doncaster and Doncaster GPs referred to Sheffield, and they can get emergency support as it were.’

A similar scheme in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire has recently secured CCG funding thanks to the efforts of the local LMC.

Dr Eggitt also praised Pulse’s Battling Burnout campaign. He said: ‘I take my hat off to Pulse, you’re doing very well with the burnout campaign - some of the only people who are championing it so well, actually.’

A recent Pulse survey, the largest ever of GP burnout, showed that burnout amongst the profession is at record levels.

A number of local area teams and health boards have cut occupational health services, with some LMCs having to provide services themselves.

Readers' comments (10)

  • “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

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  • A good idea. But the major problem is the regulator (again). If doctors have mental health problems there is a duty to inform the GMC. Unfortunately, many such doctors will never work again once the GMC has finished with them. The GMC 'code of ethics' makes provides an obligation on doctors to inform on their colleagues.

    The regulator hasn't managed to come up with something as basic as a safe maximum number of GP-patient consultations in a day, a safe list size, safe doctor patient work load.

    You only have to look at the GMC's 'duty of candour' and its attitude towards whistleblowers and its failure to deal with doctors who make malicious complaints against other doctors to realise that we are dealing with a highly dysfunctional, inhumane, serial law breaking and sinister dangerous organisation.

    Sadly, although a well meaning idea I feel it would only truly work well if the GMC was shut down and a full independent judicial process replaced it.

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  • Could I report everybody including myself to the GMC as we are all showing symptoms of burnout?
    Doncaster LMC has indeed come up with a brilliant idea. And what do you expect the GMC to do - strike everybody off?

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  • I do wonder whether the Doncaster LMC members were elected by their GPs and feel accountable for their actions.
    Anonymously reporting colleagues ,, smell a rat?

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  • Maybe I'm off the mark but then, I strongly feel that you cannot 'report' your colleagues 'anonymously' even if it is to the LMC.
    Better talk to your colleagues and advise them to get in touch themselves rather than playing God.

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  • Frightening. Will push the problem further under. Already GPs are too scared to see their GPs for fear of GMC referral. Now they will be hiding from their colleagues. There is no-one left to trust. The PHP may be available to people outside London so it is worth contacting them. Until the job changes dramatically, working as a GP puts you at risk of suicide. When there is a service specifically for GPs, which protects their anonymity, then GPs will engage. Otherwise, there is nowhere in the NHS to turn.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Good intention but still can end up with a disastrous outcome.
    Would rather for LMC to set up an open access 'Help' service solely for GPs where colleagues can have a direct contact and access.

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  • An online form to like this is open to abuse.
    A disgruntled colleague, staff members or even patients could fill that in...

    http://www.doncasterlmc.co.uk/coleaguefbk.html

    Utter nonsense. Colleagues may wish to consider helping each, in-house peer support, ballant groups across practices, see their own doctor, last resort is any involvement with Area Team or GMC.

    If the LMC wishes to offer pastoral support write to every GP including providing guidance on local options.

    Poster @10pm is wrong re " If doctors have mental health problems there is a duty to inform the GMC. "

    The obligation is to help them get the right care and support, stop seeing patients if at risk, and if complying with occupational health support, have a med3 etc GMC should not want to know. Never escalate matters unnecessarily, follow due process. If the GMC had any business knowing about every doctor with mental health problems, past or present let's send them a list of all 1 in 3 doctors on the register. It's so prevalent, but hidden behind shame and fear. Makes me furious that the GMC does nothing about organisational factors or our Leadership complicit in failing to change impossible workloads.

    It's like Airline Bosses saying, "yes we insist our pilots flying 14 hours non-stop, no breaks, no limit on flights done per week. We won't provide occupational health support. If anything goes wrong we always blame the pilot..... is nothing to do with how we run our Airline and health & safety practices"

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  • @ 1.51pm

    The way in which the GMC has dealt with doctors who have, for example depression, has been a blood bath.

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  • Absolutely correct. There is no obligation toinform the GMC . I cannot understand why they should be informed . After all if there are no complaints or concerns then why presume the doctor cannot safely work ? If the doctor is psychotic then I understand this concern. But for depression whether moderate or severe there is no need. For some doctors carrying on working is very important to prevent a worsening of the depression. I saw my GP many years ago about depression. He did not report me to the GMC. Neither did my counsellor. I have worked through the depression and not received any complaints . I am horrified to read that the GMC has been involved in doctors with no complaints but who have depression. This is truly scandalous . It's criminal.

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