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Guide launched to ease stress on GPs

Advice on spotting stressors before GPs burn out

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 10 October 2016

A new guide is being launched to help GPs spot and deal with stressors and pressure at work before it becomes a significant problem for them.

The free downloadable guide has been produced by the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF) – the charity that provides financial support, money advice and information to doctors, medical students and their families in difficult times – with support from NHS England.

The Vital Signs in Primary Care document sets out the key stress and pressure points to look out for as a GP and GP trainee and contains practical advice, as well as where to find support and resources.

The guide gives several examples of current stresses in general practice including:

  • increasing workload, demand and expectations
  • fear of making a mistake and of litigation
  • financial worries
  • constant scrutiny, review and inspection
  • perceived hostile comments from politicians and the press
  • recruitment difficulties
  • isolation as increased workload reduces contact time within the team

The document also details common trigger points to look out for such as emotional toll resulting from a high level of interaction with patients and staff; unsociable and long hours resulting in sleep deprivation; an under-staffed surgery; expectations of the NHS and patients; financial concerns such as a large amount of debt to train and then set up in practice; and burnout.

This version of the guide is an expanded, GP-specific update of The Vital Signs, released earlier this year as part of the RMBF’s What’s Up Doc? campaign, which highlighted the increasing pressure and scrutiny faced by doctors across the UK.

Steve Crone, RMBF chief executive, said: “Doctors experience stress at work just like everyone else, but we know that many are afraid or unwilling to seek help.

“With this guide, we want to provide useful advice and information, but also to break the stigma associated with seeking support, and encourage doctors to come forward when they are facing stress and pressure in the workplace.”

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