Dr Duncan Shrewsbury was elected to his one-year post with a pledge to champion positivity, at a time of uncertainty for the future of general practice and the NHS.
‘There has been a lot of issues over the past year that have made it very apparent how many people are struggling, not just with low morale, but with stress issues that can affect their mental health.
‘There have been tragic cases where trainees have taken their own lives and we often hear those who knew them saying they had no idea things were so bad. This is because we have become desensitised to the signs that we would recognise in our patients. We pass it off as being normal because everyone is experiencing it.’
Dr Shrewsbury is developing a wellbeing campaign with the college, based on the five broad themes from research that was conducted in 2008 by the New Economics Foundation – connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, give.
He prefers to focus on ‘wellbeing’ rather than ‘resilience’, seeing the latter more as a skill to be learned by an individual rather than a collaborative force for good.
‘I prefer the term wellbeing and how we as a profession challenge and address our culture. I think the trouble with resilience is that we are seeing it too much as an isolated thing that you build up as an individual, when it should be a much wider cultural thing that we build up together as a family.’
Dr Shrewsbury is passionate about teaching, to the point that he worked as a biology teacher in adult education while at medical school, and is now combining part-time GP training in Worcestershire with being a senior lecturer in clinical education and primary care at the University of Worcester.
So he is naturally keen to share the benefits of wellbeing with as many colleagues as possible: ‘I would love other colleges to take this on board. I hope that people will share my enthusiasm and excitement, take the idea on and run with it.’