NHS England launches coaching support for GPs and practice staff during pandemic

NHS England has launched a new coaching service to help support GPs and their teams through the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sessions will be delivered via video platforms (Picture: tomazl/Getty Imags)
Sessions will be delivered via video platforms (Picture: tomazl/Getty Imags)

The service, which has been developed with stakeholders including the RCGP, is available to any member of staff involved with delivering a primary care contract.

Called #Lookingafteryoutoo, NHS England said it hoped the initiative would help GPs and other primary care staff to 'feel supported to maintain their psychological wellbeing during this time, enabling them to maintain the delivery of frontline primary care'.

GPs using the scheme will receive an initial 45-minute coaching session that will be delivered virtually via a video platform, although telephone appointments will also be available. Sessions are available between 7.15am and 10pm. Those taking part will have access to follow up sessions and ongoing email support, depending on their initial discussion.

Coaching support

During an NHS England webinar last week, psychologist Dr Andrew McDowell, who has helped develop the programme, said that the aim was for people to be able to book a session within 24 hours.

He explained that the scheme had been specifically tailored to provide individual coaching support to primary care staff during the pandemic. The sessions would be proactive and focused on the current situation and aim to help participants 'to develop coping skills and and to deal with the difficult conversations that we're having on a day-to-day basis', he added.

'A strong element will be asking people to think into how they can practically develop strategies [to help them cope], offering strategies and challenging them to actually take control of what they can,' Dr McDowell said.

During the same webinar RCGP vice chair Dr Mike Holmes, who has also been involved in developing the scheme, said: 'We're going through rapid change in general practice and the workload is a pressure. That is not changing in the in the short to medium term.

'We need to ensure that we're able to manage that and one of the ways we can do that is by thinking about and considering our wellbeing and taking steps to build our resilience.'

RCGP campaign

He said that the college planned to launch its own campaign to support GP wellbeing during the pandemic using the hashtags #teamGP and #RCGPtogether. He explained that the campaign would have three themes.

'One, talking about appreciation of our colleagues, sharing all that work and sharing the positivity, sharing the innovation,' Dr Holmes said.

'The second part is about just encouraging us to consider and talk about our wellbeing. It's so important that we take steps to look after ourselves as we move forward. And the third is about embracing our sense of community and to think about ourselves as part of the wider NHS and working together to tackle this pandemic.'

For more information on the NHS England coaching support that is available and to book a session go to https://people.nhs.uk/lookingafteryoutoo/

The RCGP has also launched a new wellbeing hub here.

Earlier this month, NHS England launched a helpline for all NHS staff to offer advice and support during the pandemic. NHS staff also have free access to a range of range of wellbeing apps.

Meanwhile, NHS Practitioner Health, the service that provides free support NHS doctors and dentists in England experiencing stress, burnout and mental health issues, has also expanded the range of resources it has available during the pandemic.

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