Recent Posts by Rachel Birch

Off duty dilemmas

As doctors, we may sometimes feel that we are never off duty. Even when we are not at work, those close to us may seek our advice on medical matters, or even request for emergency medical assistance. Dr Rachel Birch, Medicolegal Consultant at Medical Protection, addresses this issue in more detail, presenting two examples of…
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Locums as educators – every day is a learning day

Dr Rachel Birch, Medicolegal Consultant at Medical Protection, looks at the valuable contribution sessional GPs can make to teaching and learning within primary care. Doctors as teachers As doctors, we are encouraged to share our knowledge and expertise with others, for the benefit of good patient care. In fact, the word “doctor” is derived from…
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Being mindful of 
medical hierarchy

Medical hierarchy may present a challenge, and at times a possible reluctance, to open discussions about patients. Dr Rachel Birch, medicolegal consultant at Medical Protection, discusses possible reasons for this and provides helpful strategies to overcome this. Most doctors would agree that a medical hierarchy exists in the hospital setting, with junior doctors and specialist…
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Burnout and how 
to avoid it

Burnout among GPs can be an occupational hazard and is believed to be increasingly common. Dr Rachel Birch, medicolegal consultant at Medical Protection, discusses burnout and the steps that sessional GPs can take to avoid it. Case scenario Dr A is a locum GP undertaking 5-6 sessions per week in different practices. She has chosen…
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State-backed indemnity – 
what it means for sessional GPs

There's still some uncertainty about the new state-backed indemnity scheme for England and Wales, and Rachel Birch from the MPS has the answers. What is state-backed indemnity? The state-backed scheme will provide GPs with indemnity for clinical negligence claims, arising from work undertaken under NHS-contracted primary medical services. This will be a similar arrangement to…
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Is laughter the 
best medicine?

The use of humour is believed to have several positive psychological and physiological effects on health. Many doctors and patients believe it has a place in the consultation. Dr Rachel Birch, medicolegal adviser at Medical Protection, addresses this issue in more detail and presents a case where humour had unintended consequences. In recent years it…
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Fitness to fly

Dr Rachel Birch, Medical Protection medicolegal adviser, presents two case scenarios on requests for fitness to fly certificates, illustrating what locum GPs can do to support patients while minimising any potential risks. Case study – Fit to fly, we want some sunshine! Mr G, a 68 year old patient, came with his wife to see…
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Lost in translation

Medical Protection’s Dr Rachel Birch explores some of the risks involved in treating patients whose first language is not English. It is likely that we have all consulted with patients whose first language is not English. How often we do so will depend on the demographics of the practice population. There are potential risks, both…
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New GMC confidentiality guidance and sessional GPs

The GMC has revised its confidentiality guidance and came into force on 25 April 2017, and it's worth becoming familiar with these changes. The GMC has published a helpful summary of what is new in the guidance, and outlines the duty of confidentiality that GPs have to their patients but emphasises the wider duty to…
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Delays outside your control

As a GP, you're part of a system. So what happens when the system is failing? You only have to pick up a newspaper to read about the widespread effects of funding cuts on the NHS. Long waits in A+E, delays in ambulance response times and frequent cancellations of operations. This leads, inevitably, to patient…
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When the going gets tough

Managing your own wellbeing can be difficult as a locum, as prioritising your own health and safety over the needs of a practice could sour your relationship with that practice. However, it is important to ensure that you are practising in a way that is compatible with your own personal safety and wellbeing, and that…
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