A glimmer of hope?

14 April 2022

A third of GPs are planning to leave the workforce in the next five years; one in six under 50 are planning the same. So ran the headlines from the 11th National GP Worklife Survey by the University of Manchester this week.

You can read our response here. However, one statistic largely overlooked and largely unreported was that 51% of GPs are satisfied with their job.

Where else but general practice would you ever see such a glimmer of hope amidst the intense workload and workforce pressures caused by years of underinvestment and poor planning?

I’m not being naïve, nor am I ignoring the attempts by certain sections of the media to resurrect their spiteful and unwarranted ‘GP bashing’ this week (see more below), but caught up in the constant struggle and challenges associated with being a GP, it’s easy to forget what a stimulating and fulfilling role we have, and what an excellent job we do to care for our patients and prevent the rest of the NHS from falling over.

Your College never loses sight of this, not least in our dealings with politicians, policy makers and NHS leaders. In our interactions with them, we fight for general practice, we relentlessly make our case for greater support, and at the same time we actively promote the pride and pleasure that many GPs still feel in their professional work.

That’s why, with the Easter bank holiday approaching, I want to say thank you to you and your teams for all your hard work and your ongoing dedication and commitment to patient care.

For many College members, the long weekend will be spent at work delivering urgent GP services, but I hope you all get the chance to get some down time and relaxation at some point.

Thank you for everything you do. The College will keep working on your behalf until the four governments across the UK give all GPs the support they need, not only to do the job but to enjoy it too.

Latest updates from your College

Defending GPs in the media

Tuesday saw a return to ‘GP bashing’ when the Telegraph ran a front page story about GPs ‘being told’ to work extended hours to ease pressure on A&E colleagues over the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

Behind the sensationalist language lay an opportunistic and tenuous link to existing guidance, but the overall message, yet again, was that GP access is to blame for pressures on emergency services. We hit back at the criticism, making clear that NHS pressures are not confined to hospitals and highlighting the incredible pressures you are all working under to deliver the best care possible for your patients. 

Our response attracted a lot of follow-up interest from other media, including the influential New Statesman who approached me to write an opinion piece on what’s really going on in general practice and the pressures that GPs are facing. I’ll share it with you once it’s published.

I’ve also had an opinion piece published in the Express and been interviewed on Times Radio, about our concerns for GP retention.

Veteran Friendly GP Practices scheme improves outcomes

A new study by the University of Chester shows that Veteran Friendly GP practice accreditation leads to better outcomes for veterans and is recommended by 99% of practice staff.

With the Ukraine situation likely to trigger difficult feelings, please join the 1,300 practices who are already accredited, if you’re able to.

Asylum Seeker and Refugee Care 

I also want to draw your attention to a new resource from the Royal College of Psychiatrists on Asylum Seeker and Refugee Mental Health.

It provides information, guidance and support for health and social care professionals to ensure timely, high-quality care. While it’s a response to the crisis in Ukraine, it has been developed with a general eye to the needs of asylum seekers and refugees worldwide.

Calling out conversion therapy

Last week, I expressed my disappointment that the Government’s proposals to ban conversion therapy would only protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and not gender identity. The second reading of the relevant Bill is happening in early May, so it’s important we make our dissatisfaction with current plans known.

I wrote in the Guardian about how we were able to work with the other signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding to ensure the document protected all LGBT people, whilst still allowing appropriate medical intervention, and that the Government needs to do the same.

Post written by:

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of RCGP Council

Professor Martin Marshall is Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a GP in Newham, East London. He is also Professor of Healthcare Improvement at UCL in the Department of Primary Care and Population Health. Previously he was Programme Director for Population Health and Primary Care at UCLPartners (2014-2019), Director of Research & Development at the Health Foundation (2007-2012), Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England and Director General in the Department of Health (2006-2007), Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester (2000-2006) and a Harkness Fellow in Healthcare Policy.

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine and was a non-executive director of the Care Quality Commission until 2012. He has advised governments in Singapore, Egypt, Canada and New Zealand, has over 230 publications in the field of quality improvement and health service redesign and his primary academic interest is in maximising the impact of research on practice. In 2005 he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for Services to Health Care.

A co-founder and driving force of the Rethinking Medicine movement, Martin has a passionate commitment to the values of the NHS, patient care and ensuring the GP voice is central in a time of great change. When he’s not working, he likes being outside, preferably on a mountain or a coastal path with his wife Sue and their puppy.

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