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09-01-2011 | Article

Sessional GPs not alone in need for peer review

The number of sessional GPs is growing - don't forget that this group includes salaried and retainer GPs as well as locums. As such, the BMA is recognising their importance. Yet, as a report highlighted in the unvadis GP News shows (click here), these GPs probably need more support, in part because of their relative professional isolation. The report mentions benchmarking and discussing cases with colleagues as a good way of maintaining clinical skills. Peer review and seeking advice and discussion with colleagues about managing cases is an important facet of continuing professional development. Sessional GPs may be at risk of missing out on this important activity - but sometimes regular GPs may lose out on this as well.

Due to the busy, sometimes frenetic, activity on the frontline in general practice, most GPs do not have time to sit down with colleagues and discuss interesting or complex cases, or review prescribing and referral rates. It is important to do this in a friendly and educational manner. No matter how experienced or knowledgeable, we can always learn new tricks and shed bad habits. This takes time and ideally should form a protected part of GPs' schedules, regardless of their contractual status. However, in today's modern primary care with so many competing demands, it is very difficult to create true and regular protected time. Perhaps this is something we should be looking at, but I guess it is a low priority in the current financial climate - this is a great shame.

Usually requests for the flu jab slow down at this time of year, after the busy months of October and November. However, because of public demand and general concern, flu jabs are high on the agenda at the moment. For some up-to-date advice including a link to a useful RCGP resource, check out the univadis GP News coverage (click here).

In the meantime, because of this unusually high demand, there may be a shortage in some areas of the current seasonal flu vaccine. As a back up, GPs can use the older swine flu stocks (click here). I have seen and heard speculation in the media as to who is to blame for these shortages, but, to be fair, it is difficult to predict surges in demand for flu jabs over a winter season.

Best wishes,


Dr Harry Brown, editor-in-chief

By Dr Harry Brown