It’s no secret that General Practice is under immense pressure and there aren’t yet enough GPs available to meet the demands of a growing, ageing population.
A recent survey found that 4 out of 5 GPs say consultations should be capped to 30 per day and despite a supposed demand, few GPs agree that extending working hours to include weekends would help their workload problems.
Administration and having patients come in to discuss non-medical concerns heavily impact on GP’s time and although new media such as video calls, text services and more administrative staff can go some way to ease the pressure; ultimately it is a GP’s responsibility to try and manage their workload… easier said than done!
As GP recruiters we’re aware of the pressures and stress GPs can feel when their workload exceeds their capabilities; feelings of being unable to cope and symptoms of stress can sometimes become all-consuming and the root cause can often be taking on too much and having an unachievable workload.
As a newly qualified GP you need to be aware of how to manage your workload so that you can avoid feeling overwhelmed; unable to cope with the demands of your role. When researching this topic and from talking to GPs we work with; we understand how prevalent mental health is for GPs and how easily their workloads can overtake their ability to take control of their wellbeing.
Here are some ideas for you to consider integrating into your work pattern so that you can manage your workload and continue to provide excellent care for your patients:
- Mix it up – varying your work content or reducing your hours can be a way to manage your workload. Look at your schedule and patterns of working; can you add or change your responsibilities so that you have a more varied pattern to your working week? This could mean exploring opportunities for clinics, working with primary care providers in your area or looking at your session rota and seeing where you can change and adapt so that you feel in control of your working life.
- Consultation times – planning ahead and scheduling longer consultation times can be a way of easing your workload. If you have regular patients who you know take more time than the allocated 10 minutes highlight this and work with the reception team to see how patients can be allocated more time.
- Community work – getting away from your consultation room and practice can be revitalising and working with different groups can help you gain perspective and work through problems you feel are challenging you. Having somewhere you can put your skills and knowledge to use but without the added ‘work’ pressures can feel rewarding and be a great confidence boost.
- Support network – build a network of support that offers you the opportunity to reflect on your work. This could be friends, family, colleagues, team sports, reading groups or a walking group… whatever form it comes in, take the time to indulge in it regularly. Get to know what is available in your area to support GPs and check in on NHS GP Health Service so you know where to get help should you or someone you know need it.
- Cut out non-NHS work – practices do have to carry out some non-NHS work e.g. countersigning passport applications, occupational health vaccination and reports, sick notes and insurance medical examinations as it provides additional income, however it needs to be balanced and not at the detriment of patient care.
- Say no – probably one of the most difficult things to do as a GP, and something many GPs – newly qualified and experienced, struggle to say confidently, if at all. Having the confidence to say no to requests that add to your workload is a valuable skill and one you need to harness. Get to know your limits and when asked to do something you know you will struggle to do and causes you stress, say no!
- Know when to stop – staying late, missing time with family or social engagements, or even just having time after work to eat properly and get a good night’s sleep are all too familiar sacrifices GPs can find themselves making when their workload gets to be too much. Being organised and preparation can help but so can knowing when to stop, leave work and enjoy time away so that you can return refreshed and ready to help your patients.
Ultimately being able to manage your workload will help you provide the best care for your patients so it’s really important you find ways to strike the balance between your work commitments and having a life outside of work.
Prospect Health’s GP Division are always on hand should you get to the point where you think a new role is needed in order to support your work/life balance or if you know the working pattern you’d like to work but not sure where to find that perfect fit then again, we’re here to help.