The 2014 Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Conference in Liverpool was attended by some 1700 delegates – Drs Alastair Dobbin and Chris Manning included. In a full session enthusiastically chaired by College Vice-President, Professor Amanda Howe – both managed (with 20 minutes to share between them!) to share some of the nuggets relating to Positive Mental Training and the importance of both individual and systemic approaches to developing resilience and robustly challenging psychotoxic methods and people respectively.
You can view RCGP Chair Dr Maureen Baker’s speech to congress here. Dr Baker used the analogy of a dam and, for all her self-evident sincerity and care, perhaps it is relevant that the material used for the construction of the dam also be considered. After all, the subject of the Conference was resilience and there was really very little about specific interventions or considerations regarding the selection, preparation, training and support of GPs; such interventions could include the use of a validated instrument such as the Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) to measure the wellbeing of every GP as part of their annual appraisal? Yet, when this question was raised by CM at a couple of the concurrent sessions, the issue that it addresses was simply ‘batted off’ – why would the RCGP now feel itself able to press for the implementation of such a simple measure? Perhaps, because no-one could cope with the answer?
You can view Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt’s speech here.
You can view NHS England CEO Simon Stevens’ speech here including mention by him of Action for NHS Wellbeing GP member Dr David Wheeler’s Clowning Workshop – which was fully booked: no problems with recruitment and retention there then!
Burnout, especially in GPs, was specifically cited by the Secretary of State as one of the three areas that the NHS had to address; whilst Stevens made some rather snide gaffs that included referece to the RCGP and its Chair being in danger of talking up a crisis in general practice to the point where it would be counter-productive and result in young doctors being even further put off from electing to become GPs – which is rather like the pilot of a pilot of a passenger aircraft blaming the altimeter for telling him/her that the sink rate of the plane is too high and a stall is imminent.
In fact, we are there now in terms of a real recruitment and retention crisis – for many of the reasons that many of us have been warning about for years including the constant dissing of GPs in the media and by top politicians; increasing top-down (and frequently incompetent – hence the required and burgeoning use of Price Waterhouse Coopers et al) management; absurd levels of paperwork, form-filling and repetitive process mapping; the hemorrhaging of many experienced and frequently wise GPs and the lack of proper systemic support, supervision, personal development and nurturing for the thousands of doctors and other key staff who make up the NHS workforce.
Further evidence for any sceptical, if not dangerously arrogant, pilot is the recent data from another ‘flight instrument’ – reported here.