The Sick GP

You might know that I have a very keen interest in the correlation between conflict and health and well-being. Just yesterday, I met up with someone who I haven’t seen for a few years. She spoke in a whisper. She lost her voice 8 months ago. The doctors first thought it was laryngitis. They now know that it is as a result of prolonged conflict and stress.

Last week I also bumped into an old friend on a train journey. We had over an hour to catch up. During our conversation, she told me a story about one of her friends who developed a permanent squint following a difficult situation that went on for a few years.

Case study – The sick GP

Some time ago, I was mediating an employment case between a GP and a Primary Care Trust. This case remains vivid for me for a number of reasons. One is that in mediating hundreds of disputes, I can count on one hand, occasions where one or more of the parties have refused to meet in a joint session. This case was one of them. Another reason why the case remains memorable is because I remember being struck by some of the notes I received about the case prior to the mediation. To give you an idea, here is a synopsis of part of the text:

‘Furthermore, the defendant (the GP) has incurred legal expenses, accountant’s fees, costs for employing criminal lawyers, time spent meeting with lawyers, time spent researching, writing letters, photocopying documents, sleepless nights, precious time lost, stress worry, psychosomatic symptoms such as headache, migraine, depression, suicidal thoughts, weight loss due to loss of appetite, strained relationship with family, sleep deprivation, loss of earnings, total waste of precious time and energy. The defendant has also been unable to open her mail box without trepidation since receiving X’s letter.’

A third reason is that during the mediation process, the Doctor had to make frequent trips to the lavatory as a result of the effect that the dispute was having on her. To preserve the dignity of the unnamed GP, I won’t expand further on this aspect. Every time I went to her room, the lawyer did the speaking on the GP’s behalf – due to the GP’s frequent absence. On the occasions where I could engage with her, she found it difficult to express herself and engage in eye contact with me. I thought it was rather peculiar to see the effects of hostility affecting a GP’s health in this way. Conflict can affect us all, irrespective of our profession or seniority.

By the way, if you know of anyone in the health/psychology sector who might have an interest in partnering with us in conducting some research in this area, please let me know.

Last week

Thanks to Alison Brimelow CBE from the European Patent Office for delivering an excellent presentation on our webinar last Thursday.


Our next webinar is scheduled for Thursday 20th May. I am delighted that in addition to Rita Lawrence from Medway NHS and Wayne Clarke from Best Companies, we will also be joined by David McLeod. David is the author of the Governments report on Employee Engagement. You won’t want to miss it! If you have never joined us for one of our webinars this will be a good first session to join.



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Webinar: Employee Engagement 20th May 2.00pm