How Negative Media Impacts Morale in General Practice​

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has spoken out about the effect of the media on staff morale. They talk specifically about the effect negative headlines can have on staff morale and how this has a significant impact on employees. With media having a huge influence on public perceptions, negative media can be damaging to those working in general practice, who might already have doubts about their role, or be facing stress due to common GP pressures. So what can be done to turn the negative effect of the media around?

Negative portrayal and the workforce crisis

GPs and general practice workers face various pressures from their roles, with crowded waiting rooms and increasing workloads meaning that many face the strain when it comes to general practice. A new study of over 400 newspaper stories included many negative portrayals of general practice. There is concern that this could have an impact on the future workforce, with newly-qualified doctors and nurses being dissuaded from entering general practice.

The study, which was featured in the British Journal of General Practice, found that general practice was commonly portrayed as being in crisis, plagued by staff shortages and doctors who are being left burnt out and stressed by their roles. It is feared that these portrayals will discourage future doctors from becoming GPs, which will only further add to the staffing issues being faced by general practice.

The effects of the media on general practice

While many of the stories reported by the media offer a ‘fair assessment’ of the current problems faced by general practice, the way that the portrayals have come across puts the spotlight back on GPs in a negative way. This is different to how the media portrays issues and problems in secondary care, which instead focus on the government decisions that have led to these issues. Hospital doctors are often seen as front-line workers, while GPs face a lot of criticism.

It’s feared that the impact of negative media could have a significant impact on the workforce. With more and more GPs looking at part-time working, including doctors who haven’t yet qualified, the staffing shortages facing general practice could be made worse as a result of the negative portrayals around the role.

It’s important that the media highlight the good work that general practice does, by emphasising the fact that millions of patients benefit from GP services each day. What they do helps to alleviate some of the pressure faced by hospitals which provide care to patients with more urgent health needs. General practice needs to be portrayed as a positive place to work, or it faces serious staffing issues in the future.

Out of hours working – a change from typical general practice?

GPs facing the strain of their role shouldn’t give up altogether. There are alternative working solutions that can ease the stress of working as a GP and ensure a better work/life balance. Out of hours working is a fantastic career choice for GPs looking to take a step back from the pressure that can come with working in-hours. There are many benefits including more family time, reduced workload, and a better work/life balance.

If you’re interested in pursuing a role in out of hours and experiencing a different kind of general practice, take a look at the latest vacancies on our jobs pages.