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HEE acts to turn GP workforce crisis into a drama


Blog headlines

  • New redeployment service offers talent pool of motivated, work-ready individuals
    15 October 2020

    People 1st International have shared some of the work they are doing to support people displaced from industries due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is an opportunity for health and care services to benefit from this workforce.

  • Link of the week
    9 October 2020

    Article published in the BMJ looking at the ability of the health service to quickly bounce back to pre-Covid levels of activity and considers if it is desirable.

  • Virtual Consultations– the patient perspective
    2 October 2020

    This week Jessie Cunnett, director of health and social care at Transverse has shared this article.

  • Virtual Consultations– the patient perspective
    1 October 2020

    This week Jessie Cunnett, director of health and social care at Transverse has shared this article - Virtual Consultations– the patient perspective.

  • Celebrating innovation in eye research
    24 September 2020

    This week Julian Jackson from VisionBridge has shared a report on eye research.

  • Link of the week: Comprehensive Spending Review and Covid-19
    24 September 2020

    This week we are sharing a blog that outlines the funding pressures and uncertainties faced by the health and care system

  • Risk stratifying elective care patients
    10 September 2020

    This blog has been shared by MBI healthcare technologies. As services are starting to treat routine patients those on waiting lists are making enquiries as to where they are on the list, and if they are still on the list.

  • Link of the week
    4 September 2020

    This week the link we would like to share are reflections from physiotherapy students on placement at Alzheimer Scotland https://letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com/

  • Link of the week
    28 August 2020

    This week we would like to share a blog published on the Mind website about being a BAME health worker in the pandemic.

  • Remote clinical triage model
    20 August 2020

    This week we are sharing how a remote clinical triage model was implemented at Tollgate Medical Centre. This has been shared with us by Sarah Portway, a Nurse, and Clinical Services Manager at Tollgate Medical Centre.

  • Can the Community Pharmacy become the gateway to integrated care in the NHS?
    13 August 2020

    The NHS is a continually evolving innovative demand led public service the role of the Community Pharmacist is becoming the public face on a journey to the more responsible public engagement in the personal care of individuals and their family. There are currently over 11000 Pharmacies many are single or small chain service providers, while multiples occupy the urban shopping centres and more densely populated conurbations, the value of the rural High Street can’t be understated.

  • Crunch time for patient involvement
    7 August 2020

    There are new challenges for primary care, which could really do with patient input. Mike Etkind, chair of a PPG and founding member of his PCN’s patient group, recognises the size of the task clinical directors have managed over the last few months but identifies two particular issues where patients have a necessary and valuable contribution, that need to be addressed now – the 2020 vaccination programme and primary care from a distance- total triage, remote consultations, and the use of telemedicine.

  • Link of the week - Visionbridge
    31 July 2020

    The link we are sharing this week was submitted by Julian Jackson, Visionbridge.

  • Links of the week
    23 July 2020

    This week we are sharing two articles with you.

  • Link of the week
    21 July 2020

    The blog is from the perspective of the Company Chemist Association's Chief Executive Malcolm Harrison.

  • Link of the week
    9 July 2020

    This week we are sharing a blog from the NHS Confederation’s “NHS Reset” looking at the work of Healthwatch, the role of volunteers in supporting patients being discharged from hospital and the importance of the community.

  • Virtual education sessions on spinal cord injury from Spinal Injuries Association
    2 July 2020

    This week Karen Mikalsen from the Spinal Injuries Association shares some information on their work and events for healthcare professionals.

  • Guest blog:Karen Chumley
    25 June 2020

    Thank you to Karen Chumley for a second blog –this time on the local use of an Electronic Palliative Care Coordination system during the Covid-19 pandemic. Karen is the Clinical Director and Deputy CEO at St Helena.

  • Link of the week
    19 June 2020

    This week's link of the week is article by Yasmin Khanagha published in Nursing Times – Why we need to open the conversation about racism.

  • Guest blog: Dr Karen Chumbley
    12 June 2020

    This week we have a guest blog submitted by Dr Karen Chumbley, clinical director and deputy chief executive at St Helena (https://www.sthelena.org.uk/)

Thursday, 20 September 2018

HEE acts to turn GP workforce crisis into a drama

Health Education England has teamed up with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and several leading theatrical agencies in a bid to end the GP workforce crisis.

Actors trained to look and behave like doctors are to fill the growing gap in the GP workforce, which is estimated at more than 5000 in England alone.

The scheme would see complex cases treated by a qualified GP and other patients seen by an acting GP or thespian physician associate (TPA).

The Department of Health and Social Care dismissed the concerns of GP professional bodies that using untrained, unqualified individuals would compromise patient safety.

A spokesperson said: “Actors are highly trained and can quite easily adapt to the role of a GP. They’ll soon learn to perfect a careworn demeanour, a shabby appearance and an air of resignation. They may even be better than GPs in some areas, such as showing emotion, looking interested and delivering bad news dramatically.”

In trials patients were unable to tell the difference between actors and real GPs. “If you hang a stethoscope round someone’s neck, most people will assume that they’re a doctor,” said the spokesperson.

Actors can be trained for GP equivalent roles in a fraction of the time it would take to train conventional GPs. They are also cheaper to employ.

HEE argues that with minimal training actors could be deployed to do much of the non-clinical work currently done by overstretched GPs. As part of NHS England’s “time for typing” initiative, practices are encouraged to delegate day-to-day bureaucracy to less highly qualified staff, leaving GPs free to concentrate on only the most important forms. 

TPAs are expected to play many of the parts currently played by family doctors, including:

  • Older GP partner – they will be trained to say “this would never have happened in my day” and “don’t ask me because I’m retiring next year”
  • Younger partner – will get the practice team on WhatsApp and announce plans to shake things up at every practice meeting
  • Salaried GP – will drive the nicest car in the practice and be encouraged to say “I didn’t train for seven years to do paperwork” and “I have to leave at 4pm to pick up the kids”
  • Locum – will come to work in jeans and keep gym bag in the car. Skis five times a year. Generally over-confident except when it comes to medical stuff.

In a statement Health Education England said: “It’s easy to overstate the importance of the clinical dimension of general practice. Taking that out of the equation opens up a whole new range of recruitment possibilities. We have already been moving in this direction with the creation of physician associates and other GP-like roles. This is just the logical next step.”

The actors' union Equity will be the new regulator for the profession and will investigate complaints of unconvincing performance and gross overacting.

HEE has made a recruitment video set in a fictional practice starring Sir Ian McKellen as elderly partner Dr Potter, Helena Bonham-Carter as salaried GP Dr Sally Waitrose and Shane Richie as loveable locum Dr Bunce.

Acting editor: Julian Patterson


Alan Lauder
Alan Lauder says:
Sep 21, 2018 11:33 AM

In the latest development, in an initiative sponsored by 'Death by Babylon', actors are replaced by CGI characters and the fun factor is enhanced by virtually spinning a 'Wheel of diagnosis'.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Sep 21, 2018 12:07 PM

Alan - love the wheel of diagnosis. We should clarify that the condition to which you refer describes a mysterious fatal disease afflicting travellers to Iraq and is unrelated to companies of a similar name

Bob  Smith
Bob Smith says:
Sep 21, 2018 02:58 PM

Re today's vote:Post Mid Staffs why are we still seeing chronic failings of care? As a patient representative over many years I repeatedly asked them not to say "Lessons Learned" until such time as they could demonstrate that they had indeed been learned.