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General Practice must be ‘properly supported’

Survey reveals widespread GP burnout

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 02 November 2017

General practice “desperately” needs more investment to prevent GP burnout.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has spoken out, following reports that one in seven GPs turns to alcohol and drugs to cope.

Yesterday, Pulse magazine published survey results, highlighted on the TV show Good Morning Britain, which revealed that almost half of GPs said their ability to care for patients had been affected by the stress of the job.

The survey of 800 GPs revealed that around one in nine GPs had turned to alcohol because of work pressures, with 6% turning to prescription drugs. 

A further one in 10 had taken time off work in the past year because of stress or burnout, while a further 22% said they were likely to do so within the next year. 

Responding to the findings, Professor Stokes-Lampard, said: “These are incredibly tough times for GPs throughout the UK.

"Our workload is increasing and becoming ever more complex, and we know that many GPs are putting their own health and wellbeing at risk - and burning out in some cases - as they do the best they can for their patients in increasingly difficult circumstances.”

She added: "Fit and healthy GPs are good for patients, but we are trying to do more and more on less and less, and there is a limit beyond which we can no longer guarantee that we are practising safely for our patients and protecting our own health and wellbeing. That is hugely stressful for caring professionals and their patients.

"What we are seeing now is the result of a decade of underinvestment in our family doctor service. Our workload has increased by 16% over the past seven years, our ageing population means people are living longer but with complex and multiple conditions, yet the number of GPs has remained largely stagnant.”

Professor Stokes-Lampard called for more investment to help improve the situation. 

"Being a GP can be an immensely satisfying and rewarding profession, as long as it is properly supported, but we desperately need more investment in our service including more GPs.

"NHS England's GP Forward View promises an extra £2.4 billion per year for general practice, 5,000 extra GPs, and 5,000 extra members of the practice team by 2021. If this is delivered in full it will go a long way towards building a healthier workforce, which is good news for GPs and our patients. We need similar commitments in the devolved nations too.”

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