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GPs put the health of patients before their own well-being.

Almost three GPs in four admitted that they always or usually carried on working when they were too ill to hold surgeries, Pulse's survey revealed.

In addition, some 74 per cent of GPs said they had taken no sick leave in the last year.

The reluctance to take time off sick could spring from GPs' confidence in their ability to deal with illness.

Some 81 per cent of respondents said they believed GPs had a higher threshold to illness than their patients.

RCGP chair Professor David Haslam said it was 'extraordinarily difficult' to make GPs take time off work when they were ill, despite GMC guidelines that state doctors have to protect patients from any risk caused by their own health.

'It really depends at which point people feel that kicks in. With colds most of us carry on,' he said.

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