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Negativity, cynicism, emotional flatness and feelings of pointlessness – essential professional attributes

Blimey. Stunning. I’ve just got round to reading the BMJ study about burnout in GPs, on account of people keep phoning me and asking me if I’m OK (I was, until they kept phoning me to ask). And no wonder the nation’s reeling. Apparently, 46% of GPs are suffering emotional exhaustion, 42% are depersonalised and a third believe they aren’t achieving a great deal.

That is shocking. Think about it. It means that over half of those surveyed – in Essex, fer Chrissakes, my patch - are psychologically intact and a scarcely credible two thirds are feeling fulfilled. What is wrong with these people? Aren’t they working hard enough? Have they slept through the health reforms? Don’t they understand acronyms like CCG, QOF and CQC? Are they taking mind-altering substances?

Look, you only have to sit through a typical Monday morning surgery to know the truth. Negativity, cynicism, emotional flatness and feelings of pointlessness: these aren’t indictments of us or our role, they’re essential professional attributes which should be appended to our job description. How else could we survive?

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex