GP professional and personal safety

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For Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 Dr Sara Riley, a medical director with our GP support team, looks at the challenges GPs face and how Londonwide LMCs supports them.

Since August 2020 we have been supporting GPs via our GP Professional Support Network, which enables GPs who are having difficulties to link with experienced colleagues who can provide peer-to-peer advice, alongside a range of other services. Details of the full offer and how to access it can be found here.

GP peer supporters listen, guide, connect and signpost colleagues as needed, following discussion on a broad range of issues. GPs seek help with a range of personal and professional issues, recurring themes include: colleagues’ health, patient complaints, returning to work after illness or maternity leave, workplace pressures, professional relationships, and how to reconnect with their work.

 Case study

A GP who made contact about a colleague’s health because they were concerned about the personal well-being and as the effect possible ill health was having on patients and staff in the practice. The situation was causing them anxiety about going into work and worry about potential complaints if the doctor was to become clinically unsafe. Despite informal approaches to their co-worker the situation was deteriorating.

Following contact with the peer supporter the GP raising the concern was helped to understand their professional roles and responsibilities regarding their co-worker. They were also supported to consider their own health and well-being in this difficult situation. The peer supporter was able to consider with the GP whether they needed formal intervention from their own GP or referral to other services while they worked out how to navigate the concern about their colleague. Between them they agreed that working together felt safe and no additional input was required. The peer supporter and GP regularly checked in during their calls that they were still in agreement that this was the case.

Guidance was provided how to approach and manage the colleague in the practice, both from the perspective of concerns around performance and the colleague’s well-being. Contact continued with the peer supporter for a mutually agreed time and the GP remained in contact with the supporter for some weeks working through both the practice and personal concerns. The GP was able to discuss their concern with the partners in the practice and a formal approach was made to the GP of concern using the information and guidance from the peer supporter.

Following this approach, the GP persuaded to take time off and seek further advice from the LMC with no performance issues evident and no complaints received. The symptoms in the GP who raised the concern resolved and they did not require additional intervention.

The GP assisted in this case, and many others we have helped, were unaware of the support available from Londonwide LMCs until directed to it. If you or a colleague you know think you would benefit from our support, or just want to get an idea of what we can help with, please get in touch with our completely confidential service.

Note: this example has been anonymised, but all details include are real problems where help has been sought from our peer supporters.