The Covid-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of GPs, according to a survey carried out by the BMA.
The doctors’ union’s latest monthly tracker survey included responses from just under 2,500 GPs based in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, found nearly half had experienced deteriorating mental health.
In all, 58% of respondents said they are currently suffering with work-related either depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, emotional distress or another mental health condition
And some 45% of all respondents said their symptoms were ‘worse than before the start of the pandemic’.
Over three quarters of GPs (67%) said they experienced ‘higher than normal’ levels of fatigue or exhaustion, while well over a third (38%) said they had worked extra hours unpaid during both waves of the pandemic.
Being ‘unable to see and treat patients at the appropriate time’ in their ‘clinical setting or for procedures’ left 56% of respondents feeling ‘anxious’ during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, 69% felt ‘uneasy’ at not being able to provide care ‘to the standard they would like’ during the pandemic.
The survey, carried out before Christmas, also showed that nearly all (95%) of GPs were concerned about plans to relax social distancing requirements over the holidays.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned that this comes as ‘the months ahead will be as challenging, if not more so, as when the virus first peaked in April’.
He added that while it was ‘vital that the vaccination programme is delivered as fast as humanly possible’ this would require ‘proper resourcing of staff, including GPs and primary care teams, who need to be given the space and time to vaccinate and protect the nation’.
The news comes as 595 GP-led sites are now administering Covid vaccines, with a further 180 due to be added this week, according to a briefing by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday evening.
This followed yesterday’s news that the Government aims for all four vaccination priority cohorts to be vaccinated by mid-February, until which a national lockdown will be in place.