Peaks, patients and GPs under pressure: support for the public and the profession

17 April 2020

We hear the phrase ‘the peak’ on the news in reference to the highest number of COVID-19 cases in any single day. However, sadly this is just one peak among many. There will also be a peak in terms of non-COVID related health issues which have had delayed treatment or complications due to coronavirus. This can be mitigated against and the College has been at the forefront of highlighting that GPs are on hand for all ailments not just COVID.

“It is alright, not to be alright”

Another peak which we need to be mindful to mitigate is that of our own and our patients’ mental health and wellbeing. The pressure on the profession is intense at this time and it is a new experience for us all. Many of us will have moments in which the situation we are working in can seem overwhelming. To repeat the phrase, we sometimes find ourselves telling our own patients, “It is alright, not to be alright”.

It is good to see that this topic is being reflected in work in and outside the College. RCGP has launched and is further building upon a resource focused specifically on GP Wellbeing. This contains guidance on everything from tips to working at home in a way which is good for your health, through to responses to trauma. In addition, there is information on how NHS professionals can access useful external support such as the Headspace App which is currently free for members of our profession. Also included in the list of resources are podcasts and articles from doctors to explain their own experiences and ideas to ensure they look after their own wellbeing.

Staying well for patients

The Welsh Government has expanded its Health for Health Professionals Wales website which was developed in partnership with Cardiff University. This is now free to all healthcare professionals and healthcare students in Wales and offers a confidential service. My advice would be that this is a page worth bookmarking even if it is not something you feel the need to use at the moment.

Public Health Wales has also produced guidance on Staying Well at Home. As the name suggests this is targeted at the general public rather than GPs but I think that it is not only good for us to view this as best practice advice to share with our patients, but also that there are tips we can find helpful ourselves.

Looking after our own wellbeing cannot be an after-thought. It is essential for ourselves, our families and, at the end of the day, for providing sustainable care for our patients. Look after yourself and one another.

Post written by

Dr Peter Saul, Joint Chair of RCGP Wales

Dr Peter Saul qualified in 1985 and currently is a partner in Rhosllanerchrugog near Wrexham. He combines his work in the practice with his other professional passion of medical education, in the role of Associate Postgraduate Dean in the Wales Deanery. He also has a toe-hold in hospital medicine, working for one session a week running the Paediatric Allergy Clinic at Chester Hospital.

Peter has been an active member of his local RCGP Faculty, serving as Chair and as Treasurer. He is also actively involved with the media, with a weekly medical column and as a regular radio contributor.

For fun he rides a bike (his favourite being his red Brompton), and when in need of a loftier perspective he flies his part owned light aircraft from Welshpool Airport. He lives on a smallholding and has three grown up children, one of whom is a junior doctor in London.

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