A GP who has raised a petition calling for safe working hours for GPs has been in talks with NHS England leaders about a cap to GP workload.

After the suicide of Dr George Porteous in October, Dr Anshumen Bhagat set up a petition and has since managed to obtain almost 4000 signatures.

“Pulse” magazine has now revealed that, as a result of the number of signatures received, Dr Bhagat met with Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Deputy Director for Primary Care Edward Scully and NHS England Director of Primary Care Nikita Kanani for discussions about GP workload.

The discussions covered what Dr Ashumen Bhagat and four thousand other GPs and their families would like to see happen. This includes a new government-funded study into the maximum number of sessions a GP should work per week/month that is sustainable and safe. This study should assess the physical and mental strain on GPs today.

The petition also recommends the introduction of an increased 15-minute appointment time to enable GPs to treat patients effectively; a new “General Practice Working Time Directive” (GPWTD) to introduce a maximum working week/month; a new promise from the Government to employ an updated number of GPs, based on the new GPWTD; and an official channel for NHS GPs who are completing the GPWTD role to access and apply for non-patient-facing roles in the NHS and beyond to combat fatigue with variety.

The directors are due to respond to the requests in August.

Dr Ashumen Bhagat said the “British Medical Association (BMA) survey revealing how eight out of 10 doctors are at substantial risk of burnout was a real kick in the teeth for GPs — tell us something we don’t know. For the last few years we have seen study after study telling us that GPs are struggling with work/life balance due to the pressures they are facing caused by the GP shortage, but still there are no solutions being offered.”

He continued to say “the research tells us there is a crisis — this is the burning house” but the issue is “no-one is calling the fire brigade or attempting to put it out”. He said: “We are all just onlooking and continuing to watch GPs take their lives each month.”

NHS England’s official response to “Pulse’s” recent workload survey, which found GPs were breaching safe working limits, was to highlighted that almost nine in 10 salaried GPs now work part time.

Last reviewed 15 May 2019