Sessional GPs facing professional isolation

RCGP takes on working group to support sessionals as research highlights need for more support.

Dr Gerada: RCGP is keen to continue the work started by the RMBF (Photograph: JH Lancy)
Dr Gerada: RCGP is keen to continue the work started by the RMBF (Photograph: JH Lancy)

Support for sessional GPs is limited and professional isolation remains a major issue, according to research by the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF).

The research has prompted the RCGP to take responsibility for managing a working group set up to look at the needs of sessional GPs.

At a conference held by the RMBF last month in London, research was presented into self-directed learning groups for sessionals.

From 2009 to 2011, the RMBF undertook a research project which spoke to a variety of professionals working with sessional GPs. It observed self-directed learning groups and arranged meetings for sessional GPs to establish new groups and expand existing ones.

The findings, which were presented at the conference, showed that support for sessional GPs was limited and warned that they remained at risk of professional isolation.

The researchers argued that self-directed learning groups could help to reduce professional isolation by providing local networks offering peer support and CPD.

RMBF research has found that sessional numbers have grown rapidly in recent years.

A report by the organisation last year said isolation was 'the predominant issue identified by sessional GPs themselves, especially those doing odd sessions or locuming in a single practice'.

Lack of contacts with other sessionals or other GPs, poor access to meetings, information, education, peer support networks and a lack of feedback were also key problems.

Dame Deirdre Hine, president of the RMBF, who chaired the conference, was positive about plans to support sessional GPs. 'We hope that this conference will have contributed to not only solving a problem for sessional GPs but for patients and the profession as a whole, for years to come,' she said.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada said the College was keen to take on the working group and continue the work started by the RMBF.

'Sessional GPs provide a major contribution to general practice and we will be looking at taking this work forward,' she said.

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