Screen GPs for stress and burnout at appraisal, say LMCs

Appraisal should be used to screen GPs for signs of stress and burnout, according to Scottish LMCs.

A motion for debate at this year’s Scottish LMCs conference, which takes place on 30 November, says that appraisal presents an opportunity ‘to screen our colleagues for evidence of distress and struggle so that practical support and assistance can be offered’.

GP leaders will say that there ‘has to be a different way to appraise GPs.’ LMCs will also call for the appraisal process to be streamlined, so that GPs who have had five consecutive ’successful’ appraisals are only required to have a full appraisal once every three years, with annual probity statements continuing.

Confidential health service

Meanwhile, Glasgow LMC will call on the Scottish GPC to work with the Scottish government to deliver ‘a comprehensive confidential NHS service for all GPs and GP trainees in Scotland suffering from mental health conditions, including stress and depression, which is at least comparable with the NHS GP health service available to GPs in England.’

A poll by RCGP Scotland earlier this year found that more than one in five (22%) Scottish GPs are so stressed they feel they cannot cope at least once a week.

Official statistics published in March found that one in every 18 shifts in Scottish general practice is unfilled. The number of hours worked by GPs have increased over the past two years with 39% working 40 hours or more per week in 2017, compared with 35% in 2015.

Lanarkshire LMC will tell the conference that the Scottish government should provide a specialised doctors’ primary care service, which recognises the unique which doctors with acute and chronic illnesses face.

GP contract

GP leaders will also debate the impact of the new Scottish GP contract, which came into force in April. While several motions will highlight the benefits of the contract, including saying it has the ‘potential to make being a GP in Scotland a desirable career option’, Ayrshire and Arran LMC will raise concern about its impact on rural general practice.

The LMC will say that the contract ‘fails to adequately support rural general practice’ and will say that the remote and rural short life working group, which is working to support rural areas to deliver the the new GP contract, must urgently produce detail on how additional resources will be spent and practical guidance to support practices.

Lothian LMC will also raise concern that the ‘new GMS contract gives insufficient support to GPs working in the most deprived practices, who serve some of the most ill populations in Western Europe’.

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