Editorial: General practice is proving resilient

Resilience is defined as the ability to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed.

It is a word GP has seen cropping up continually in relation to GPs in recent weeks.

At last month's RCGP annual conference in Liverpool, former GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman won a debate arguing part-time working was not the only way for GPs to maintain their personal resilience.

A letter signed by 115 GPs and attributed to 'Resilient GP', complaining about the size of the funding prime minister David Cameron has earmarked for his attempts to extend general practice access, led the Your Views page of GP in our previous issue (GP, 27 October).

A commenter on our website, GPonline, referred to a group called Resilient GP (www.resilientgp.org/p/about.html), which describes itself as an organisation set up to support GPs in developing working practices designed to prevent burnout and to support a highly effective primary care service that works well for both doctors and the needs of patients.

At a time when workload and morale are deterring medical students from considering a career in general practice, even health secretary Jeremy Hunt targeted burnout while speaking at last month's Best Practice UK conference in Birmingham.

Looking at the results of our exclusive survey, it is clear that resilience remains one of general practice's strengths. Despite current pressures, the majority of practices are taking on new patients; only a small minority are turning them away, despite many practices fearing they lack adequate workforce and premises capacity.

Politicians appear to be starting to wake up to the attributes of general practice, with both Labour and the Conservatives pledging to recruit more GPs.

What is unclear, however, is how long practices can continue to be quite so resilient. Reducing the pressure on general practice is a matter of urgency.

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