ICGP to conduct survey into doctor stress amid calls for new complaints process

A formal complaints mechanism that lets doctors resolve issues raised by patients — before any possible litigation — could ease pressure on medics, according to a GP.

ICGP to conduct survey into doctor stress amid calls for new complaints process

Diarmuid Quinlan is among those who will address the Spotlight On Risk conference at Dublin’s Convention Centre, aimed at GPs from Ireland and organised by the Medical Protection Society.

The MPS recently published a survey of GPs in Ireland, showing that 90% of those questioned said they had experienced work-based stress in the past year. Among the reasons given were raised expectations among patients and the risk of litigation.

Dr Quinlan, who is based in Glanmire near Cork City, said doctors in Ireland were more likely to be sued than their counterparts in Britain.

“It happens a lot,” he said. “After the US, we are the most litigious country in the world. My medical indemnity is higher than in the UK because I am more likely to be sued.”

He said local grievance procedures that operate in Britain meant many issues were able to be resolved quickly and before entering the legal arena.

“We do not have a formal complaints mechanism in this country,” Dr Quinlan said, adding that GPs would be favour of such a system being established.

The Irish College of General Practitioners is already conducting a survey into doctor stress, with the results due later in the year.

Andrée Rochfort, MICGP, Director of Quality Improvement incorporating Health in Practice programme at the ICGP, said: “The ICGP Health in Practice Programme is currently conducting a research project in association with the UCD School of Medicine, funded as a summer project 2014 by the Health Research Board.

“The survey will seek the views and experience of health professionals who are visited by GPs.

“The purpose of the survey is to know what the main health issues are among doctors and/or medical students who seek healthcare in 2014 in order to identify content which should be included on a website for doctors’ and medical students’ benefit to enhance their own health and healthcare.

“The survey is being carried out by Dr Andrée Rochfort of the ICGP, Mr John Murtagh Graduate Entry Medical Student UCD and Dr Crea Carberry, GP and lecturer, Department of General Practice UCD.”

Dr Rochfort said of doctors seeking help for stress: “The ICGP Health in Practice programme, which is a system of healthcare services, information and medical education on personal healthcare and occupational health for GPs has been in operation for 14 years.

“In Ireland over recent years, it would appear that additional sources of stress have arisen for GPs, in addition to the usual difficulties of the job.

“These include increased pressures from organisational change, manpower shortages, economic constraints — add this to the enormous personal accountability that is involved in every medical decision and we have a recipe for stress.”

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