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'We had to cancel appointments due to support services error'

Dr Jessica Harris says that her trainee was unable to do clinical work after primary care support services failed to file performers list documentation

After every surgery, the trainee does a debrief.  One evening during this discussion our trainee told me that she was not yet on the performers list.

The next day I phoned the dean and the medical defence organisations and established this was a big deal. My trainee then established that fellow trainees in practices across Oxfordshire were not on the performers list.

I spoke to Dr Paul Roblin [Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs chief executive] and he kindly sent an email out to other training practices to inform them.

We were given clear advice that the ideal thing to do would be for the trainees not to see patients, and only undertake non-clinical work. If they were to see patients, they would need to be fully supervised – effectively meaning doing each consultation twice.

The immediate impact was on our patients. The trainees had a full schedule of patients booked, so we had to cancel those appointments.

We had to find capacity to see more patients and at the same time find useful non-clinical work for the trainees to do.

In fairness, as soon as the problem was identified, the local area team did all it could to rectify it, and prioritise it. Some trainees were able to work a few days after the problem was identified, but others had to wait longer.

But then our trainee got a deanery email saying that the RCGP would not accept her doing more than two weeks non-clinical work, therefore if the problem was not resolved within a week, there was a strong possibility that they would suspend her training. She found this pretty stressful.

The fundamental error was a misunderstanding in the primary care support services team. They believed that, as long as they had all the paperwork in their office, it was fine for the trainees to work – but this was wrong.

We have been warned to expect a CQC inspection in the next two months and, in their ‘well-led’ domain, they want us to tell them about any significant problems. But we are worried that they might hold this against us, and not understand that it was a countywide system error.  

We want the local area team to inform the CQC about this so no practice gets penalised. But we have had to really push them to do this.

Dr Jessica Harris is a GP in Oxford, and is a member of the Oxfordshire LMC

Readers' comments (11)

  • Rules are sometimes there to be broken. The LMC should have sucked it up and allowed those trainees to carry on as normal, possibly under an emergency clause. Like emergency replacement passports. We make the rules and not the reverse.

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  • odd comment from anonymous on24.8.15 at 12.14
    A GP is practicing illegally if they are not on the performers list after the three month window allowed under the regulations and the LMC cannot influence this.
    Breaking rules like this has legal consequences both for the individual trainee and any LMC that advised it was OK
    If the anonymous person posting would care to advice his defence society about his attitude to breaking rules, I am sure they would be delighted to put up his annual subscriptions because of a tendency to risky behaviours

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  • 3 months, 4 months, 6 monts...rules, rules and rules.
    With regards to risky behaviour, does it become less so if a registrar has a paper saying they are on the performers list? Its just an excuse for insurance companies not to pay out. Free your mind and the rest will follow.

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  • If you want us to take your views seriously then you should identify yourself

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  • Stop whinging for goodness sake.Give him a broom and a shovel!There are plenty of jobs he can do.

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  • Dear All,
    And where do we send the bill for the inconvenience caused from this incompetence?
    Paul C

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  • @Paul Cundy

    Isn't taking shit part of the GP job description?

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  • What is the point of the performers list???? Seems to keep some buerecats on the nhs pay trough me thinks....what if all GP's quit it? Food for thought. I'm sure dr roblin will have a answer!!

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  • Suggesting that someone should consult when not on a performer's list is ridiculous. Indemnity insurance would probably be invalid too because of this.

    Only an idiot would suggest this.

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  • We should scrap performers lists. We live on a small island and already hold a register of qualified GPs. What exactly do they add? It's just protectionism and a barrier to a well functioning labour market. Can't imagine them lasting long when the HMOs take over the NHS.

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