Helping us grow generations of GPs in Derbyshire (HUGG- GP Derbyshire). A longitudinal support network (LSN) pilot study
These are unprecedented times in the GP workforce with a reported a 1.2% reduction in GPs up to September 2019. In Derbyshire, work is being undertaken to address the recruitment & retention crisis. The Derbyshire GP academy applied the Waas report recommendation by bringing GP trainees into the medical school to teach students. The project showed the expected benefits from near-peer teaching, but also showed increased resilience and desire in the GP trainees to stay working in the region. Focus groups showed linking GP trainees, students and academic GPs made them feel part of a supportive team.
To evaluate the impact of longitudinal support, we took those interested in primary care from medical school, through GP training, and all stages of the GP career, including retired GPs; joining them together in networks to enable us to evaluate the feasibility, barriers and benefits of this approach.
We aim to determine if it’s feasible to set up a LSN in Derbyshire covering all stages of general practice from medical school to retirement, reviewing the benefits and barriers of this approach when building resilience, promoting recruitment and retention locally.
42 participants were randomly split into 5 LSN’s with all stages of GP represented in each. Each month (n=6), a different method of communication (e.g. social media, face to face meeting) are given to the LSNs to encourage group communication.
A mixed method approach, using focus groups and surveys, comprising 5-point Likert scale, (1=low; 5=high) and free text open questions are undertaken at the beginning and end of the study, to ascertain information about the experience and views of participants. Each month, the number and type of contact within each LSN are measured. Quantitative analyses and thematic analyses are to be conducted for closed and open questions, respectively.
The initial survey and focus group have been completed. Monthly data continues to be collected. Once the final focus group has been completed, formal analysis of the results will be undertaken. The mixed method nature of the study with regular collection of data and paired (beginning and end) surveys and focus group ensures the data we collect is robust and trustworthy, although the small number of participants could add bias.
Building on the soft data collated with the GP academy regarding the impact of LSNs on GPs in Derbyshire; we aim to determine the best approach to setting up and sustaining these networks, the best method of communication within the LSN and ideal frequency of contacts. By establishing the benefits and barriers of using such schemes, our aim is to then run a larger project starting in September 2020 based on these findings.
HUGG-GP would be easily transferable to other areas once this data is available and shared.