“This is the most mismanaged gp surgery I have ever had the displeasure to use. Difficult to get appointments, impossible to plan around work, rude receptionist…”
It is difficult to see how any surgery could use this sort of general criticism to achieve anything positive. More often I find that this sort of comment leaves staff demoralised and defensive.
The premise of NHS Choices sounds superficially sensible. Provide potential patients with honest, good quality testimonials about GP practices. These rational and informed consumers will then choose to take their business to the best practices. The good surgeries are rewarded with new business. The underperformers will respond to patient feedback and improve, or eventually lose patients and go broke.
In most industries and under normal circumstances this would make sense. But, General Practice is not a normal industry and these are strange times. In an environment of clinical staff shortages, many practices simply do not need or want to attract more patients. They simply cannot find or afford the staff they would need to look after them. In addition, due to practices boundary rules, patient choice may be limited to only a collection of equally poorly rated practices facing shared recruitment and demographic problems.
Feedback is powerful. Thoughtful feedback given with good intentions by a skilled tutor or friend can encourage a student to improve and excel. But, careless feedback can hurt, demoralise and block progress.
Feedback is a useful tool when applied in the right way to a suitable problem…
Working as a GP in the esteemed but overstretched british national institution which is the modern NHS can be tough at times. I felt this a little more than usual last week having just returned from my summer holiday in the artificial bubble and pinnacle of one of America’s own national institutions – Disney World – the “happiest place on earth”.
Since beginning this blog, I’m always on the lookout for innovative ideas. Free association of unrelated concepts is a great source of inspiration. So I kept my iPhone in hand to jot down any thoughts that might help improve life and care within General Practice or the wider NHS.
You may have been noticing people acting rather strangely this week. Why are that couple walking on the patch of grass next to the Tesco that leads no where? Why are those teenagers hanging around outside the church next to the surgery? Are there more families walking around together in the sun? And why are they all holding mobile phones in their hands
Fortunately, it seems nearly everyone knows the answer. My 60 year old parents, my eight year old nephew, the practice manager and and the patients all know.
They are all playing Pokemon Go.
A new and addictive mobile game which has taken the world by storm. It is giving us all one of those rare shared cultural moments when everyone, young and old, have something in common to talk about.
“It is perhaps the first game to implement mixed reality”
Pokemon Go has had more active users than Twitter, and replaced “porn” as the most searched term on Google, this week.
A patient told me about Pokemon Go in clinic this Tuesday. “My autistic son wanted to get up and go out of the house. He never wants to do that.”
Interestingly, Pokemon Go is also receiving praise for having a positive impact on people’s mental and physical health.
Ask Practice Managers and GP Partners to list the challenges currently facing their practices and GP recruitment will poll high on the list.
Practices are facing a perfect storm of factors making it difficult to find and keep salaried and partner colleagues. Senior GPs are making an early dash for the exit and juniors are looking to other specialities or to more work-life balance friendly overseas or locum roles.
The issues almost roll off the tongue. Pension caps, insurmountable workloads, business uncertainty and risk, premises issues, increasing patient demands, more regulation, higher indemnity costs, the recent GP bashing mood of the media, and active recruitment by sunnier parts of the world. It’s enough to make even the most dedicated partner consider their position.
In many areas, even finding locum GP cover means using expensive agencies to find someone to drive across counties to the practice. It is not unusual for vacant sessions to go unfilled adding to the pressure on remaining staff.
Fresh thinking and innovation can throw up novel ideas and solutions to complex problems and turbulent times.
“Innovation comes about through combining disparate ideas and disciplines in ways that seem weird at first.” – Ben Weinlick
In 1439 Johannes Gutenberg combined the wine press and the coin punch to create movable type and the printing press. He revolutionised the world.
In March this year the the RCGP Vale of Trent Faculty applied an innovative idea to the problem of GP recruitment and retention in the East Midlands. Perhaps not quite in the same league as the printing press, but exciting none the less.
The worlds of speed dating and GP recruitment, together at last!
It’s 9pm. I’m alone. This was a busy supermarket. Was. The air is filled with the smell of long rotten food and the sound of silence. A can falls loudly to the floor. A feral zombie like creature darts towards me. My heart quickens as I raise my AER9 laser rifle…
No, this is not Dr Puddle’s usual trip to the local Tesco Metro to pick up a ready meal after evening clinic. I’m playing a game. My old student penchant for computer role playing games, RPGs, has not entirely left me. I should probably be doing something more productive, like preparing for my appraisal next month. But then again, isn’t it important to unwind from time to time?
It would be nice to think that all those hours exploring dungeons and slaying orcs were not wasted. And, perhaps they weren’t.
Continuing Professional Development, CPD, is an essential part of life as a modern professional. Here in the UK, demonstrating ongoing development is a compulsory part of all doctor’s revalidation process. Over 50 hours of development activity must be demonstrated every year in order for us to be allowed to continue to practice medicine. As I reflect on how I plan to improve myself as a professional, it strikes me that RPGs have some powerful lessons to teach us about personal and professional development.
That RPGs incorporate elements relevant to CPD is not surprising. A big appeal of the RPG genre is the experience of improving your character’s skills and abilities as you engage with increasingly difficult but rewarding stories and quests within the game world.
All RPGs incorporate a system to model the accumulation of experience, skills and abilities. For example, the Fallout series quantifies a player’s abilities using the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system. Player “stats” are rated 1 to 10 in the attributes of Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. Your character starts the game weak and ordinary, but experience points earned through playing the game are spent improving your basic stats, and training in special abilities. Currency can be earned and exchanged for equipment and clothing, which further enhance “stats” and abilities.