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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs' fury over twin threat 'to end general practice'

GPs have expressed fears over the ever-increasing stress levels facing the profession in the wake of claims that alcohol and drugs misuse is widespread among doctors.

Research for BBC1's Real Story found 750 hospital staff in England had been disciplined over drink- and drug-related incidents over the past decade.

In a response, the BMA said one in 15 GPs and hospital doctors would have had an alcohol or drug problem at some point in their career which could affect patient care.

The programme came days after 150 GPs attended an RCGP conference convened to tackle rising stress levels and promote 'positive general practice'.

GPs at the event said worries about changes to the way they worked were causing high stress levels.

Dr Brian McKinstry, a GP in Blackburn and author of research into morale among GPs, said inability to control workload, lack of family and friends to talk to about problems and poor relations between colleagues in the practice were leading to stress.

He added that GP training also led to 'perfectionism'.

Dr McKinstry said: 'It makes GPs believe they can

do everything in one con-

sultation. We need to be more realistic.'

Other issues contributing to stress highlighted at the conference (see box, right) included recruitment difficulties and long working hours, leading to burnout and early retirement.

Dr Harry Yoxall, Somerset LMC secretary, said he was trying to set up an 'emotional health' scheme to give doctors access to counselling. He added: 'Clinical governance changes have revealed more doctors who are struggling.'

What GPs say is

making them

stressed

·Less autonomy

·Shortage of doctors

·Private sector competition

·Change fatigue

·Long working hours

·Boredom after many years in the profession

·Keeping up with targets and rule changes

Source: RCGP Positive General Practice conference

By Daile Pepper

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