More than one in five Scottish GPs struggle to cope due to stress

18 May 2018, 06:39

Doctor Generic

A "worrying" number of GPs are so stressed they feel they cannot cope, a new survey has found.

The ComRes survey of 208 Scottish GPs commissioned by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland found 22% said they struggled to cope due to stress at least once a week.

One in ten said they felt like that either every day or most days.

The survey was carried out online between August and September last year, but the findings have been released to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.

RCGP Scotland said GP shortages and rising demand had left family doctors having to work harder and for longer hours.

The body has said Scotland needs 856 extra full time GPs by 2021.

Chair Dr Carey Lunan said: "These findings are very worrying.

"The GP shortage has been putting GPs under increasing pressure to provide a safe and sustainable 24-hour service to ensure that all patients receive care as and when they need it.

"GPs working in daytime services have told me that they are now routinely working 12-13 hour days without taking time for breaks.

"It is clear from these findings that this pressure is taking its predictable toll on Scotland's family doctors.

"That can only have negative knock on effects for how able GPs are to provide for the health of our patients."

She added: "Family doctors across Scotland want to provide compassionate care, and many GPs have repeatedly gone above and beyond for their patients when they needed it most.

"However, for GPs to continue providing high quality care, we need to ensure that they are also able to look after their own wellbeing."

RCGP Scotland hopes by speaking out about their own health, GPs will encourage others to do the same and reduce the associated stigma.

The organisation has launched a further in-depth survey to explore how workload is affecting GPs across the country.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "It is critically important that we look after the health of those who look after us.

"Since 2016, all GPs and general practice staff have been able to access their local health boards occupational health services - including mental health support - free of charge.

"In addition we are expanding the GP for GP scheme, to all remote and rural GPs, which provides a confidential service at times of stress or illness.

"We have successfully negotiated a new GP contract to stabilise income, reduce workload, and improve patient care.

"The new contract is backed by investment of £110 million this year and ensures GPs are able to spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy, and will help cut doctors' workload."