After sustained lobbying – including Pulse’s Battling Burnout campaign – Professor Gerada led the launch of a free, confidential counselling service for GPs across England in January this year. And the demand has been there in spades.
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The Practitioner Health Service (PHP) was contacted by 50 GPs in the first week and now has a caseload of more than 500. Any registered GP in England with a mental health issue may refer themselves to the service by phone or online for access to psychological support and addiction services.
As its medical director, Professor Gerada has been running a London version of the service since 2009, accepting all types of doctors, but scaling it up to accommodate GPs across England has been a challenge, she admits.
She says she’s had ‘hundreds of lovely moments’ over the past year, but ‘all related to getting doctors back to work after years of ill health or through regulatory processes, or lobbying to get them cheaper indemnity or indemnity at all’.
Professor Gerada has more hats than Cilla Black (for all you 80s kids) – she sits on the GPC and RCGP and BMA councils, and is medical director of the Practitioner and GP Health Programme, as well as senior partner at the Hurley Group.
She says that in the BMA role, she will focus this year on how to reduce the regulatory burden on doctors. She says: ‘There are two main areas I am concerned about, the first is that we need to work to reverse civil and criminal proof required (it must criminal) and also to ensure new registrants do not have to disclose sensitive health information to the GMC ahead of registration.’
Asked how others would describe her, Professor Gerada says they probably think she’s mad because she ‘can’t sit still’. She says: ‘I have recently had an operation meaning I can’t walk – so hired a wheelchair to make sure I remained active. I think I have to slow down though.’
The doctor’s doctor
What others say
‘A fearless champion of the NHS and general practice’
‘Have recently done a DNA test to find out where I am from’