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#GPnews: BMA sets up support service for stressed doctors

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Average waiting time for GP appointment increases 30% in a year

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17:00 We finish for the weekend with a story showing Scottish GP practices are also being affected by English primary care support service woes.

Practices north of the border have been warned to look out for delays with records being transferred with new patients switching from English practices – previously acknowledged by NHS England.

It was suggested they seek out the records themselves instead.

15:00 A growing number of patients diagnosed with cancer are surviving beyond one year, official data has shown.

For many common cancers more than one in three people are now living for at least a year despite being diagnosed at a later stage.

Cancer charity Macmillan said the new statistics were ‘heartening’ but highlighted that this meant more people needing support.

Director of policy and impact Dr Fran Woodard said: ‘These new results are further proof that cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was. But with thousands more people surviving cancer, this also means more are dealing with the significant impact it has on their lives.

‘They may be grappling with potential long-term debilitating side effects such as heart problems, incontinence and chronic pain or having money worries, a result of giving up work or cutting down their hours because of their illness.’

13:45 The crisis is staff morale is a bigger issue for the NHS than financial constraints, a health expert has warned.

Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards said health workers’ care and compassion for patients was underpinned by a ‘phsychological contract’, but that this was under threat from rising workloads and tensions with the Government, reports the BBC.

He said: ‘Once the psychological contract with staff is broken, it may be impossible to reverse.’

But the Department of Health suggested managers should be improving morale, claiming that ‘the best hospitals combine tight financial grip, an unrelenting focus on improving patient care and high levels of staff engagement’.

The spokesperson added: ‘Good leadership is the single most critical ingredient to raising morale in any team.’

11:30 The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has warned that there are too many poor quality investigations into babies who die or are severely brain damaged during labour, the BBC reports. 

The college has published its preliminary report into how problems during labour are investigated.

A quarter of the 204 investigations into deaths reviewed were found to be of poor quality.

10:30 The BMA has set up a specialist-led support service for doctors who self-refer for stress-related anxiety and depression.

It is a 24-month pilot based at BMA House, and is a joint initiative between the BMA and the RMBF (Royal Medical Benevolent Fund). It aims to complement existing support services, such as BMA Counselling and the Doctor Advisor Service.

Head of the BMA doctors for doctors unit Mike Peters said: ‘The BMA is delighted to support this new initiative, which will offer doctors a precious resource — face to face, confidential therapeutic support from a team of experts.

‘It is our duty to care for the profession, ultimately so they can better look after their patients, and we believe this will be another tool to help in that respect.’

9:30 Our top story today is our survey that reveals that the average wait for an appointment is now 13 days – up from 10 days last year.

The GPC has said that this shows how the GP crisis is affecting patients.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘These figures show that the longer the crisis in general practice continues the worse it gets for patients.

‘It’s why there is an urgent need to provide significant recurrent funding now to support the workforce expansion that is fundamental to managing workload pressures and resolving this situation. It’s a crisis that cannot wait until 2021 to be resolved.’

Read the full story here.