Nine out of 10 doctors across the UK believe their working hours put their personal relationships under pressure, a major new study by the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund has found.
The survey, which polled 1,351 GPs, consultants, hospital doctors and charity supporters, found that an ‘alarming’ number of doctors experienced mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, as a result of working under increasing pressure and scrutiny.
Over 80% of doctors know of colleagues experiencing metal health issues, with nearly three-quarters saying they knew of other doctors experiencing marital and family problems.
Patient loads, working hours and the pressure of increased scrutiny in the shape of CQC inspections and revalidation are key factors contributing to metal health issues among doctors, the survey found.
The RMBF said: ‘Worryingly, of those doctors surveyed, 66% felt that the NHS provided a poor level of support to doctors and their families.’
It added that doctors are unlikely to reach out for support or advice for fear of discrimination or stigma, or are inhibited by their ‘high achieving’ personality traits.
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the GPC had repeatedly raised concerns about the impact of the workload crisis on GPs, noting that rising rates of stress and burnout not only affected GPs themselves but very often their families and friends.
Dr Vautrey said: ‘A comprehensive occupational health service for GPs is long overdue and needs to be urgently commissioned. Equally this is yet another reason why NHS England needs to deliver a significant rescue package to tackle the root causes of the workload pressures GPs face each day.
‘If they fail to do so the impact on GPs’ health and wellbeing will only become greater.’
Match – stress – burnout – online
Pulse launched its Battling Burnout campaign in 2013, calling for a nationwide occupational health service for GPs to access.
Last year, Pulse’s survey of 2,230 GPs showed 50% are at high risk of burnout, up four percentage points from the same survey two years ago.
This year, an NHS England-commissioned study concluded that GPs under the age of 50 are abandoning UK general practice as they feel ‘unsupported and vulnerable to burnout’.