Pulse May 2019 issue - Page 28

28 Editorial Patients must be told safety is at risk due to GP workload Let me be frank: the general public doesn’t really care about GP burnout. The study showing 90% of GPs are at high risk (see page 4), or tragic tales of GP suicide (page 30) won’t make the national headlines. It’s true workload in general practice is exceptional by any objective measure. Our cover feature shows GPs are working, on average, 11 hours a day. In how many other professions is that the norm – other than those where earning vast sums is the driving force? Yet the general public – after years of misleading headlines about GP pay – will lump GPs in with the investment bankers and City lawyers. The only way to drive home the message that drastic change is needed is by emphasising the danger to patients. Because there is real danger. Facing a daily conveyer belt of patients makes it impossible for GPs to give each the best care they can. There are the more tangible effects, like missing an important point in test results, failing to contact a patient who is awaiting a call or rushing a consultation that needs more time because there is a waiting room full of other patients who need care. But there are also the intangibles, maybe best summed up by our cover quote: ‘There is a point where I feel cognitively drained and, after about 20 patients, there is not an iota of sympathy left.’ I am in awe of those of you who can engage with, say, 70 patients in a day, treat the last one as you did the first and summon the empathy needed to give each one the care they need. But this takes a superhuman. GPs should not be expected to work at this level and the profession now needs to deliver a stark message about the risks to patients. It’s true the BMA and the RCGP have used patient safety as a message in the past. But the profession needs to connect on an emotional level and change the narrative. Those tales of Address Pulse, Cogora, 140 London Wall, London EC2Y 5DN Email pulse@pulsetoday.co.uk Twitter @pulsetoday Facebook /PulseToday.co.uk LinkedIn Search for ‘PulseToday’ Pulse May 2019 Editor Jaimie Kaff ash Deputy editor Nicola Merrifi eld Clinical editor David Swan News editor Sofi a Lind Deputy news editor Beth Gault Features assistant Ellie Philpotts Reporters Léa Legraien Anviksha Patel Clinical features editor Isobel Sims Digital producer Tim Pieters Editorial adviser Dr Keith Hopcroft Commercial director Edward Burkle Art director James Depree Freelance art editor Stephen Powell Editorial enquiries 020 7214 0552 Classifi ed advertising 020 7214 0570 Display advertising 020 7214 0578 Pulse jobs 020 7214 0570 pulsetoday.co.uk 020 7214 0523 Delivery and subscription subscriptions@cogora. com Registered offi ce Cogora, 140 London Wall, London EC2Y 5DN burnout still need to be told, like Nabi nearly crashing her car after a 14-hour day, or Dr Rich Bennett, whose relentless workload meant a single patient complaint contributed to the depression that led to his suicide. But we need to make the public ask themselves: if this is what GPs are doing to themselves, are they really able to give me the best care? Then hammer home the demands: no new work introduced in the contract without equivalent work being removed, with a full impact analysis of the time saved (a boast of £20m being put into the global sum that boils down to 90p more per patient no longer cuts it); anything that even looks like screening having to receive approval from the National Screening Committee; and campaigns to inform patients when they actually should see a GP about self-limiting illness. In addition, no new guidelines are to be issued before taking proper account of workload implications. This approach would even allow us to call for the abolition of CQC inspections, with the public told the huge workload burden they entail is harming, rather than protecting, patient safety. There’s a chance warnings around safety will erode trust in GPs, which remains high. But, as workload grows and GP numbers shrink, the risk to patient safety will no longer be just a risk. Facing a daily conveyor belt of patients makes it hard to off er each the best care Jaimie Kaff ash is editor of Pulse Follow him on Twitter @jkaff ash or email him at editor@pulsetoday.co.uk © Cogora 2019 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. The contents of Pulse are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems. While the publisher has taken every care with regard to accuracy of editorial and advertisement contributions, they cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions contained therein. Pulse is available on subscription at £160 per year (single copy £16). 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