The NHS reforms, cuts to health budgets and ministers’ raid on the NHS pensions scheme are placing GPs under record levels of stress, LMCs have warned.
LMC leaders in Devon and Bedfordshire and Herfordshire have reported being contacted by rising numbers of GPs seeking support to help them cope with the ‘enormous stress’ of their developing role. They said GPs are under particular strain as pressure mounts on them to engage in commissioning, alongside pressures caused by service cuts, pensions reforms, locum shortages and calls for increased patient access.
Dr Peter Graves, chief executive of Bedfordshire and Herfordshire LMC, said : ‘It says a lot that we’ve already spent more on pastoral care for GPs this year, and we’re only six months in, than we’ve ever spent before. We will continue to support our GPs on this – it’s a high priority, because they are under enormous stress. Patient access is a huge issue here on top of the stress from things like the reforms, pensions and changes to services.’
Writing to GPs this month, Sarah Hale, director of operations at Devon LMC, said: ‘The LMC is experiencing an increasing number of calls for support from GPs and practice staff for whom the pressures of the current environment are taking a toll on them as individuals or teams… There are many contributory factors – challenging patients, the effects of budget cuts,the new demands posed by engagement in commissioning, changes in pensions critera and insufficient availability in locums, to name just a few.’