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Peter is a GP based in Haygarth Medical Centre and a member of GPC Wales
I recently did an interview with BBC Radio Wales on the topic of NHS staff being off work with stress related illnesses.
An FOI they submitted to the Welsh health boards showed that 3,027 NHS staff members have been off work with stress-related conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression in the first six months of 2017. This compared to 4,853 for the whole of 2016. Whilst this number is high, unfortunately it comes as no surprise.
After I’d spoken (in what was my first media interview in so many years) and given my views, the show was opened up to a phone in. One caller commented that doctors aren’t trained properly nowadays, whilst another fought the corner of doctors. His words were words BMA members will be very familiar with, as they form our strapline. He said that doctors need to be looked after if we want them to look after patients. He offered this comment with bafflement that anyone could hold a differing view. How can doctors possibly be relied upon to provide us with the service we come to expect when they themselves are under immense strain?
It’s a topic I’ve thought about a lot. Being a member of the BMA’s GP Committee, we continually hear from doctors who are faced with mounting pressures in their jobs; something I’ve also experienced myself as a GP. We’ll hear the argument that doctors should be able to recognise the symptoms of stress in themselves. I understand this logic – we’re diagnosticians – however the type of person who chooses to pursue a career in medicine, is someone who continually strives for the best for their patients. Most doctors work long hours and meet the demanding nature of the role, often to their personal detriment. They would be very reluctant to leave their colleagues with a gap in the rota and put them under further pressure by going off sick.
It’s a problem faced in all the health boards in Wales and the UK.
So what’s the answer? There is no one answer but it’s important that we offer solutions to try to tackle the problem. BMA Cymru Wales has called for a full occupational health service for all NHS staff but without also targeting the core problem, this would simply act as a sticking plaster. We need to address resourcing issues; ensuring that recruitment and retention problems are tackled and that those keeping our vital NHS running are supported and have the tools they need to be able to do their jobs well.
The gentleman who called into the show said that he felt guilty about visiting his GP, as he could see how busy the doctors and nurses were, and this made him think twice about booking an appointment. As sad as the situation is, the system isn’t what it once was, but our NHS should be able to provide for those who really need it. Years ago, patients would book in to see their GP whenever they felt the need. Today, we continue to hear stories in the media of surgeries with queues coming out of the door, with the sick unable to get an appointment for weeks. A level of self-education is needed until things start to change, whereby patients ask themselves ‘do I really need to see my GP?’ But ultimately a fundamental change is needed.
I’m lucky enough not to have become ill solely due to work pressure, however I’d sincerely hope that if I found myself in such a position, there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. What are your experiences of yourself or your colleagues being off with stress related illnesses and what do you think is needed to ease the situation?
Great article, Pete - highlights that we can't rely on individuals recognising symptoms of burnout and self-diagnosis in themselves and that systems have to change.
I was "on the edge" for many months without this being recognised by my friends colleagues or family; six months after GP retirement I am a new man and feel 10 years younger. I feel no guilt about retiring at 56; it was clearly the workload and "stress" that had damaged me so much in the first instance! Were I not self-employed I would have had a very strong lawsuit for my employer!
dear sexy pete. 12 years ago today I met pickle rick.
[Intro: Jake Paul]
Y'all can't handle this
Y'all don't know what's about to happen baby
Los Angeles, Cali boy
But I'm from Ohio though, white boy
[Verse 1: Jake Paul]
It's everyday bro, with the Disney Channel flow
5 mill on YouTube in 6 months, never done before
Passed all the competition man, PewDiePie is next
Man I'm poppin' all these checks, got a brand new Rolex
And I met a Lambo too and I'm coming with the crew
This is Team 10, bitch, who the hell are flippin' you?
And you know I kick them out if they ain't with the crew
Yeah, I'm talking about you, you beggin' for attention
Talking shit on Twitter too but you still hit my phone last night
It was 4:52 and I got the text to prove
And all the recordings too, don't make me tell them the truth
And I just dropped some new merch and it's selling like a god, church
Ohio's where I'm from, we chew 'em like it's gum
We shooting with a gun, the tattoo just for fun
I Usain Bolt and run, catch me at game one
I cannot be outdone, Jake Paul is number one
[Chorus: Jake Paul]
It's everyday bro
I said it is everyday bro!
[Verse 2: Nick Crompton]
You know it's Nick Crompton and my collar stay poppin'
Yes, I can rap and no, I am not from Compton
England is my city
And if it weren't for Team 10, then the US would be shitty
I'll pass it to Chance 'cause you know he stay litty
[Verse 3: Chance Sutton]
Two months ago you didn't know my name
And now you want my fame? Bitch I'm blowin' up
I'm only going up, now I'm going off, I'm never fallin' off
Like Mag, who? Digi who? Who are you?
All these beefs I just ran through, hit a milli in a month
Where were you? Hatin' on me back in West Fake
Think you need to get your shit straight
Jakey brought me to the top, now we're really poppin' off
Number 1 and number 4, that's why these fans all at our door
It's lonely at the top so we all going
We left Ohio, now the trio is all rollin'
It's Team 10, bitch
We back again, always first, never last
We the future, we'll see you in the past
[Verse 4: Martinez Twins]
Hold on, hold on, hold on
Can we switch the language?
We 'bout to hit it
Sí, lo único que quiero es dinero
Trabajando en YouTube todo el día entero
Viviendo en U.S.A, el sueño de cualquiera
Enviando dólares a mi familia entera
Tenemos una persona por encima
Se llama Donald Trump y está en la cima
Desde aquí te cantamos - can I get my VISA?
Martinez Twins, representando España
Desde la pobreza a la fama
[Verse 5: Tessa Brooks]
Yo, it's Tessa Brooks
The competition shook
These guys up on me
I got 'em with the hook
Lemme educate ya'
And I ain't talking book
Panera is your home?
So, stop calling my phone
I'm flyin' like a drone
They buying like a loan
Yeah, I smell good
Is that your boy's cologne?
[Verse 6: Jake Paul]
Now I'm in my flippin' zone
Yes, they all copy me
But, that's some shitty clones
Stay in all designer clothes
And they ask me what I make
I said is 10 with six zeros
Always plug, merch link in bio
And I will see you tomorrow 'cause