GPs are the most highly pressured doctors working in the NHS, a BMA survey has found ahead of its Annual Representatives Meeting in Edinburgh this week.
The survey of 1,000 members - a third of whom were GPs - found that 89.4% of GPs reported feeling under very high or high pressure at work. This compares with 80.6% of consultants and 68.9% staff and associate specialist grade doctors
GPs were also the most likely to report feeling less empowered than last year despite Government claims that the Health and Social Care Act reforms have put GPs in the ‘driving seat’ of the NHS.
Overall, 64.6% of doctors said they felt less empowered compared with a year ago, with the rate highest among GPs, at 74.1%. This was followed by staff and associate specialist grade doctors, at 64.2%, consultants at 60.3%, and junior doctors at 49.1%.
The BMA findings build on the results of Pulse surveys uncovering the extent to which GPs are now at risk of ‘burnout’ and how GPs were feeling no more engaged in running the NHS as CCGs took responsibility for services in April.
Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair and a GP in Leeds, said: ‘It’s very concerning that so many GPs are feeling like this. It is very much related to the huge workload that practices – GPs, their practice nurses and other staff - are experiencing. They’re seeing more patients, more often and with more complex problems. The Government’s response was to impose even more work on us with more box-ticking and that’s made it significantly worse.’
He added: ‘It’s a sign the crisis we’ve been warning about is here and it’s time the Government really did listen and act. Jeremy Hunt in his last speech reflected on the concerns he has about box-ticking and micromanagement and yet he was the minister who imposed even more [of this] on practices. Instead of fine words we need some action – we need the Government to really take this seriously.’
Dr Vautrey called for a commitment from Government to increase the proportion of NHS spend in general practice to allow practices to employ more staff.
‘We also need to see some acknowledgement that they made a mistake in the imposition and that they’re intending on reversing some of those changes,’ he added. ‘They need to take a radical look at the expectations being placed on us and whether they’re really necessary. We need a return to professionalism, to empower GPs to be professionals and not expect them to spend so much time box-ticking.’