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Burnt out? Give me a break

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Congratulations for staying awake to read this if it is past 4pm, as according to NHS managers many of you are currently dribbling onto your consultation desk.

In advice designed to help GPs ‘survive and thrive’, an area team has suggested GPs over a certain age should be allowed to clock off early, as ‘concentration goes’ late in the afternoon. It urges practices to consider flexible timekeeping, with younger GPs working while their more distinguished colleagues take a nap.

NHS England Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSSG) area team wrote: ‘An example of this is the older partner with adult children who is happy to work early extended hours in the practice but finds that after 4pm his concentration goes.

‘[This] complements the younger doctor with primary school-aged children who needs to do the morning school run, but is happy to work later.’

Sick Notes is happy that managers are finally looking at how they can lessen the load on senior GPs, but you could argue a more effective salve would be to limit the amount of brain-numbing paperwork that is tipped over practices on a weekly basis by the area team – rather than adding more pages of ‘advice’ to it.

Also, coming just after the announcement that one of the best GP occupational health support services in the country (in Devon and Cornwall) has lost its funding, it all smacks of fiddling while general practice burns.


In a move that demonstrates the times we live in, the RCGP has told companies that recruit UK GPs to overseas positions they are not permitted to exhibit at its forthcoming annual conference.

Canadian recruitment company Health Match BC told Pulse that the RCGP informed them, ‘with apologies’, that they would no longer be able to attend the conference. After being approached by Pulse, RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said that she felt their presence was ‘inappropriate’ considering the severe shortage of GPs across the UK.

Now Pulse’s own recruitment pages often contain vacancies from abroad, so we cannot claim superior moral ground on this issue, but this does all looks a bit Gordon Brown. Sick Notes looks forward to Dr Baker’s ‘British exhibition spots for British GP recruitment companies’ speech at conference.


The Daily Record recently reported a startling public health measure being considered by the Scottish government. In contrast to the lackadaisical approach to obesity south of the border, experts have recommended restaurants serve a salad with every meal.

The public health experts have called for the deployment of large amounts of lettuce to solve the obesity crisis, in a recent report to Scottish ministers: ‘If, as part of a meal, a restaurant is obliged to sell customers a salad, even in Scotland, customers will probably eat it,’ they said.


Hero of the month is actor Michael Sheen. More famous for his film roles as a harrowed Tony Blair or playing troubled comic actor Kenneth Williams in BBC Four’s Fantabulosa!, he recently made an impassioned speech defending the NHS as a ‘symbol of equality, of fairness, and of compassion’ and telling politicians: ‘stand up for what you believe – but first of all, by God, believe in something’ (you can read the full text of his speech here.). Sick Notes recommends you keep it near you for a bad Monday morning. Stirring stuff, but why do we need to wait for a Hollywood actor to say it?


As a modern Samuel Johnson would say, once you are tired of the Pulse website comments section, you are tired of life. GPs from all walks of life come together to discuss the issues of the day with a raucous irreverence and wit that warms the cockles of Sick Notes’ cold heart.

Take the recent announcement from the CQC that inspection ratings should be displayed ‘prominently’ in GP practices.

‘We know our ratings are an important source of information to support people’s choice of service and the aim of this new requirement is to achieve better awareness and transparency,’ said CQC chief executive David Behan.

Within minutes, a GP had responded: ‘Clearly the toilet is the best place to display our rating’.

Another replied: ‘What about getting it printed on the toilet paper?’

‘You may need a policy on absorbency. And woe betide you if you are found not implementing your policy,’ added another.

Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, comrades, but please carry on.


PR fail of the month. The retail website that claimed 45% of ‘UK females’ are ‘shopping addicts’ from a survey of 2,000 women who use the website. Wonder if they have heard of selection bias?