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GPs work longer hours due to growing workload

By Pat Anderson

GPs are being forced to go into the surgery at weekends to finish off paperwork and work longer hours during the week in order to stay on top of an increasingly heavy workload, a Pulse survey reveals.

The first findings from our State of the Profession survey, published this week with responses from almost 600 GPs, show that over a third (36%) go into the surgery at weekends and almost three quarters (73%) now spending longer at work on weekdays.

More than a quarter of respondents (27%) reported that an increased workload has reduced their regular time off, while the same proportion have reduced outside work to ease pressures. In addition, 18% have reduced or stopped their training commitment, 16% have cut their study leave entitlement and 14% have reduced holiday entitlement.

The survey also found that 11% of GPs have reduced services and 8% have restricted practice list size because of workload pressures.

Dr Caroline Graas, a GP in Formby, Merseyside, described GPs' workload as 'incredible'' and warned it was leading to GPs 'double working' – for example dealing with calls from patients while working on their computer.

She said: 'I am in the process of obtaining remote access to my computer so that I can work from home at the weekends and at night.'

Dr Tayza Aung, a GP in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, said: 'The redistribution of QOF monies to encourage extended hours, coupled with current NHS spending constraints, have forced GPs to work harder and longer just to stand still financially.'

'This situation will be exacerbated by the reforms as GP practices will be forced to engage in commissioning in addition to maintaining their clinical responsibilities.'

Dr Kate Gearing, a GP in Cornwall, said: 'We're generally very busy and often have to spend longer hours in the surgery. We get very tired.'

GPs' are being forced to do paperwork at weekends