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New specialised service for GPs

From January 2017, GPs will be able to access the new NHS GP Health Service via a confidential national self-referral phone line, website and app Available to all GPs in England, the service is all inclusive, from prevention to treatment, including psychological support but NOT long term one-to-one psychotherapy. While this will come too late for many of our struggling colleagues, it is encouraging to see something tangible coming from the GP Forward View.

The need to treat burnout is a highly regrettable fact of where we currently are with the NHS. What we need in the medium term is a working environment for doctors where burnout is a rarity, not an expectation that requires attention from a specialised service. But, we are where we are. Until we start to see real improvements in GP workload that we hope the General Practice Forward View will bring, this sticking plaster is an unfortunate necessity.

The good news is that there's £19.5 million to be spent on this service and it has been awarded to a group with a significant record of achievement in delivering psychological and addiction support; the Hurley Clinical Partnership T/A The Hurley Group (in a joint bid of a number of organisations including a GP Federation with Hurley as the lead provider.) 

At least with Dr Gerada at the helm we can work locally to implement this new service to make it as accessible as possible around the country. As former chair of the RCGP and a working GP Clare understands how best to publicise the service, make the helpline available at the times when GPs will want to access it and hopefully deliver a face-to-face service that is accessible to GPs in even in the most rural areas. In the south west we will be talking to her within the week to make this work and iron out any teething problems for our colleagues. GP trainees, sessional and out-of-hours GPs and principles will all be eligible for this free psychological and addiction therapy and signposting to further sources of help.

I’m pleased that the great many of my colleagues who are suffering from burnout will soon have the opportunity to receive assistance from a dedicated service, but the real task now is to start focussing on prevention rather than treatment and get GP workload pressures under control.

Helena McKeown is the deputy chair of the BMA Representative Body