GP practices are being encouraged by the BMA to take time to reflect on staff wellbeing and what they can do to protect it, as part for stress awareness month this April.
The body has released new guidance suggesting that making time for reflection a monthly habit ‘to support wellbeing in the future’ would also help meet the QOF quality improvement module on wellbeing, which is new for 2023/24.
As part of the guidance, the BMA suggested 10 ways to help support staff and maintain their wellbeing. These include:
- Rotating staff between high and low stress activities
- Checking in with each other and being alert to signs that colleagues might be in need of help
- Ensuring senior staff are visible, available and demonstrate that it’s ‘ok not to be ok’
- Arranging small support groups and safe spaces for staff to speak openly
- Facilitating access to food and drink and encouraging taking breaks
- Being kind to yourself and colleagues
- Ensuring colleagues are aware of where they can access support.
The BMA has also recommended that practices use their time for reflection to think about how workload is managed. Its guidance outlined steps practices can take to mitigate ‘the worst impact of unsustainable demand and overworking’, and things GPs can contractually say no to.
These include limiting the number of direct patient contacts (face-to-face, by telephone, or remotely); using patient participation groups to ‘support practices with messaging and patient education regarding any changes made to protect wellbeing and patient safety’; deprioritising non-core work that falls outside of the GMS contract); and consider closing patient lists if safe care cannot be provided to their existing lists with their current workforce.
The guidance said: ‘We encourage practices to consider these suggestions for controlling their workload to ensure safe patient care and better staff wellbeing which could make a significant difference in the coming weeks and months.’
NHS Practitioner Health mental wellbeing app, available to anyone in the primary care team
BMA’s free 24/7 counselling and peer support services – 0330 123 1245
Non-medical support services: Samaritans
Practice managers and GPs will be able to hear the latest on how to juggle work and life at this year’s Management in Practice event in Birmingham. Register here for free.