Sessional GPs left out in the cold
Sessional GPs continue to feel isolated from the rest of the profession and lack support and career opportunities, reveals a report from Durham University researchers.
The number of sessional GPs - including locums, salaried GPs contracted to a practice or Primary Care Trust, and GP retainers - is on the rise. Recognising this, the British Medical Association has been working to increase their representation and also recently highlighted their potential as key leaders of newly forming consortia.
Yet the research, commissioned by the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF), shows that sessional GPs suffer from a lack of information about systems and support networks and are missing out on peer interaction, for example to discuss challenging cases and to receive feedback from and benchmark against colleagues.
Sessional GPs themselves reported feeling isolated as a result of such issues, particularly those who were doing odd sessions or locuming at a single practice.
And despite participating in self-directing learning groups, sessional GPs can miss out on developments in clinical guidelines and services.
RMBF Chairman Dr Joan Trowell said: "The resourcefulness of sessional GPs in creating their own networks of personal support says much for their professionalism."
But she added that more needs to be done to include sessional GPs and make sure their training and skills are not lost to the NHS in the future.
"We hope that this research will highlight the issues currently faced by sessional GPs working in the UK and so encourage dialogue amongst key decision-makers in order to implement policies and structures to support sessional GPs in their careers, in the best interests of patients, the profession and sessional GPs themselves."
GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011
By Caroline Price