Support and Counselling

LMC Pastoral Care

One of the most important roles of the LMC is to advise and support local GPs.  This can range from advice about an unusual dilemma to pastoral care. We understand the importance of this role and have a suitably qualified and robust pastoral care team.

Doctors are notoriously bad at seeking help for medical problems, but illness in a GP may jeopardise his or her ability to care for patients.  Experience has shown that doctors who run into problems with performance issues or partnership disputes are often ill. This may be physical illness or mental health problems, including alcohol or substance misuse.  Therefore it is commonplace for us or the Area Team or CCGs to persuade GPs to undertake a medical assessment as part of an investigation into performance concerns.  Our Pastoral Care Lead clinician is available for support throughout this process.

If you believe that either you or a colleague might need help or support – whatever the problem – please contact the office immediately on 01438 880010.  Your call will be strictly confidential and referred immediately to our Pastoral Care Lead.

Joining the LMC Pastoral Care team

Due to an increasing need to provide care for colleagues, we have formed a team of GPs to provide pastoral care support.  The GPs are interviewed to ensure they are competent and able to provide compassionate care. They have a clear job description, meet regularly for training and mentoring and are supported by the LMC Medical Director.

If you think you might be interested in joining the team and are a GP working in Bedfordshire or Hertfordshire, please do not hesitate to contact the LMC office and discuss the fascinating and stimulating work of the team.

GP SafeHouse

GP SafeHouse is an on-line service that was developed by GPs for GPs in Somerset, Gloucester and Avon and has now been commissioned by Beds & Herts LMC for all GPs across Beds and Herts.
This is a virtual safe house with 5 “rooms” where information and support can be found. Every aspect of this is fully confidential. The 5 areas are:

1. Occupational Health – including self-help resources and how to access local services
2. Burnout Recovery – self-assessment and solutions
3. Partnership Relationships – common scenarios and solutions
4. Coping with non-medical demands of work (e.g. timekeeping) – scenarios, solutions and strategies
5. Careers advice – information and support

In addition to the above, GPs can sometimes benefit from a 1:1 discussion with an Advocate (pastoral colleague) from the LMC. The GP SafeHouse website includes a special section where GPs can choose and easily access an Advocate from Beds & Herts LMC’s Pastoral Care Team. The software for this has been specially designed so that 100% confidentiality is the rule and Advocates can even be contacted anonymously (i.e. the system does not use email or chat-room software).

The GP SafeHouse website www.gpsafehousebedsherts.co.uk is a members-only service and you require a personal password to access it. If you haven’t received a personal password or have any difficulty accessing the site, please contact Sue Holloran on sueholloran@bhlmc.co.uk who will be able to help.

GPs as your patient

Consulting with a GP colleague presenting as a patient, can be more complex and difficult as you have a duty of care to the patients of your GP patient.  If you believe that the ill GP is putting his or her patients at risk by continuing to work, then you must take action.

We would recommend that you discuss the situation with the GP and persuade them to stop working.  Failing this you have three options:

You can discuss the situation you face, in complete confidence, with either:

  1. LMC CEO or Medical Director on 01438 880010.
  2. LMC Chair for your area (the LMC office can make contact on your behalf)
  3. NHS England Area Team Medical Director (the LMC office can provide the contacts)

GPs facing Performance Procedures

We would recommend that all GPs facing NHS England, GMC, NCAS, litigation or other performance procedures contact the LMC for advice and support. Whatever the circumstances, such procedures are stressful and need to be addressed swiftly and appropriately.  We are here to ensure that the procedures are fair and transparent, as well as providing pastoral support for GPs during a very difficult time.

Dispute Resolution

Contractual

On occasions GPs (as contractors) may disagree with decisions made by the commissioners in respect to their contracts. Disputes may arise over decisions about contractual sanctions and termination, remuneration, practice area and “opt-outs‟.  Contractors have the right of appeal against such a decision and to request that it is resolved through a series of dispute resolution processes.

It is expected that most contractual disputes will be resolved informally as part of the normal contractual relationship before entering into formal procedures. Either the practice or the Area Team can request the LMC to help to resolve a dispute at any stage. 

Partnership Disputes

Disputes interfere with the running of the practice, resulting in reduced quality of patient care and serious errors.

Partnership disputes must be taken seriously and dealt with professionally and urgently. We would strongly advise you to seek help as soon as the dispute is recognised.

The LMC can facilitate meetings at early stages of a dispute, but once the parties are entrenched, formal professional mediation may be necessary.  There are a number of trained and registered mediators in the Portfolio of Approved Consultants.

The best way to prevent most disputes is to have an uptodate robust partnership agreement.  There is some guidance on this website about partnership agreements but you will need to seek legal advice.  Please contact the LMC office or visit our Portfolio of Approved Consultants for preferred providers.

Employment Issues

Employment Issues are very complex and the law pertaining to employment is very complicated.  For these reasons the LMC does not give guidance on employment relations and we would suggest you contact ACAS.

Other National Support Organisations

BMA

For help, counselling and personal support from a trained telephone counsellor or peer support from a doctor-adviser. Available 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.

Tel: 08459 200169

Charities offering support to GPs:

The Dain Fund helps with the educational costs of doctors’ children in certain situations

The Cameron Fund supports general practitioners and their dependants in times of financial need, whether through ill-health, disability, death or loss of employment

Royal Medical Benevolent Fund Helping doctors and their dependants in need

doctors.net.uk The UK’s largest professional network of doctors – for doctors, by doctors: Forum, email, library, education, medical news, jobs

Support 4 Doctors Information and advice on: work & career, health & wellbeing, money & finance, family & home

Claire Wand Organisation The Clare Wand Organisation is a charitable fund that makes grants to fund the further education of medical practitioners, predominantly engaged in general practice, and for the provision of scholarships (including travelling scholarships).