Looking After You Too Case Study: GP Partner

Role and Context

The GP Partner works in a medium to large Yorkshire practice.  Although they have worked at the practice for a number of years, they became a partner in the past 5 years.  The GP welcomed the move to become a Partner to have a greater role in steering the practice and to be involved in decisions about the future of patient care.  The GP Partner role includes a variety of tasks, “What isn’t my role?”, involving both clinical and management work.  The Practice also covers local residential nursing and learning disability homes.

More recently, the Practice has also been heavily involved in the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out, which although was described as “wonderful to be part of” also put a large strain on the staffing, as each Practice in the local CCG were providing staff pro rata to their size.

Challenge of Covid-19 on own wellbeing

At the beginning of the pandemic the GP Partner felt an immediate responsibility to ensure that both patient and staff safety were maintained.  Patient appointments were transferred to a telephone triage system overnight which “was a 100% change in how I have been taught to work as a GP.”

“There was a phenomenal and inconceivable amount of fear from our patients about Covid, and we were trying to manage that.”

Although some aspects of the changes, including embedding new IT systems were described as empowering and sped up positive improvements in patient care that may have taken longer to otherwise implement, other changes to patient care and service delivery were harder to manage.  For example, the GP Partner described how the work became isolating due to social distancing measures, and the change in patient needs and volume of patient calls became and remain very high.

“Generally speaking it has been very lonely and frightening.  There was constant change with new protocols every day.  It was like a whirlwind.”

“It feels like we are on a tidal wave, and that is what it feels like every day…and we are not even seeing the full impact of the pandemic yet.”

 

How Looking After You Too coaching helped

The GP Partner recognised that “my wellbeing had taken a hit more than it ever had done before” and having read on a ‘doctor mums’ social media post somebody else’s experience of the Looing After You Too coaching, the GP Partner signed up for the service as “I was so desperate for something to help”.  The coach was able to help the GP Partner realise that she needed to prioritise herself, and to take conscious time to look after her own wellbeing.  They had identified that “the nature of the job is that you feel like you are never done or never finished” but that the coach provided her with a range of thinking and behavioural strategies to give themselves permission to choose actions that would be best for them.

“The coaching gave me time for reflection and for more structured opportunities to think about my priorities.”

“The session gave me the chance to think about what I needed to do, because when you are ‘in it’, that is really hard.”

As being a GP Partner was a relatively new role, they also discussed coaching principles that would help them in their management role, and how they could successfully communicate ideas with the other Practice Partners, as “this had given me a bit of anxiety”. The coach provided them with tips about how to structure conversations with peers, to ensure that their voice was heard in a non-confrontational but assertive way.

“Using the coaching I was able to get my point across without getting emotional myself so that was incredibly helpful.  I definitely got my point across better than I would have done previously.”

Impact of the coaching

The GP Partner found that they were starting to implement the coaching into their daily role, taking short wellbeing breaks during the working day, and being able to structure conversations was described as “a valuable tool which I will definitely be using again” and with continued practice would lead to sustained behaviour change

“It has been a short sharp reminder of the benefits of small changes.  It has been really helpful to me, and it is something that I will always remember.”

At the time of the conversation the GP Partner has received two coaching sessions and had a third booked to review the techniques and how they could continue to be implemented both at work and in their personal lives.  They really appreciated being able to talk to an expert coach who was “incredibly skilled and immediately distilled the issues, yet was detached from the situation.”

They would consider using coaching again in the future, and highly recommends the service to other GPs who are feeling overwhelmed by recent events.

“I don’t think that there are many doctors that couldn’t benefit from something like this at the moment…I was really impressed by it.”