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Pressure must ease to stop these tragedies

The tragic death of Leicestershire GP Dr Stephen Farley has highlighted the often intolerable pressure on GPs. Here we examine the cause of the problem and ask how well GPs are bearing up to increased scrutiny and contractual change.

GPs will be shocked and distressed to hear one of their colleagues, Dr Stephen Farley, has been found hanged after being hounded by his PCT over a high referral rate.

But they will not be surprised.

The intense level of scrutiny on every aspect of GPs' work is putting doctors under intolerable strain and in many cases making their lives a misery. PCT managers, driven by Government targets and star ratings, niggle away at GPs, questioning what they're doing, why they're doing it and why can't they do it faster, cheaper and better.

The new contract was supposed to provide some relief but, in the short-term at least, the change is adding to the pressure on practices.

The upshot is more GPs sick with stress, retiring early or quitting the job entirely.

And unless something is done to ease the pressure, it will also mean more tragic and avoidable cases like that of Dr Farley.

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