There is a very old social work joke about an earnest young social worker trying to help a woman whose family has multiple problems − a pregnant teenage daughter; a drug-addicted, delinquent, non-school attending son; an alcoholic, long-term unemployed husband; all living in damp, overcrowded, rat invested housing.

So the social worker having listened carefully to all this women’s problems says: “And how do you feel about your rats?”

Not exactly hilarious but poking fun at the sheer inadequacy of the “you’ll feel better if you talk about it” school of social work.

I was reminded of this when I heard about the government’s one-hour-a-month session for doctors and nurses to talk about how they feel about the pressure of their work.

Overwhelmed and undervalued

I don’t know how this works in the US, where such sessions are called Schwartz rounds, but the idea of going down the pub after work to have a good old moan about management is already well established in this country. From my experience in local government, the same exercise minus the alcohol is less therapeutic.

Does it make you feel better to realise you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed and undervalued? Will it make you more compassionate towards patients?

Much to my surprise, apparently seven out of 10 NHS staff in the pilot said it did. Maybe they just thought an hour away from the pressure of work to moan about ungrateful patients, demanding relatives and uncaring managers was better than a kick in the teeth.