Young GPs face rising stress, BMA report warns

Young GPs are more likely to face rising levels of work-related stress than their counterparts in other medical specialties, a BMA report suggests.

BMA: report shows rising stress on young GPs
BMA: report shows rising stress on young GPs

The seventh report on the BMA's Cohort Doctor Study, which tracks the career progress of 430 doctors who qualified in 2006, found that more than half of doctors working as GPs believed work-related stress had risen in the past 12 months.

Work-related stress rose for 44% of the cohort as a whole, but for 53% of those working as GPs. A total of 34% of the doctors working as GPs reported high or very high work-related stress.

GPs were also more likely to report rising complexity of workload and to say that heavy workload was impacting on their life outside work.


A total of 71% of GPs said work complexity rose in the past year, compared with 61% of all doctors. A total of 69% said that work-related admin impeded their life outside work significantly or very significantly.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GP: 'This backs up what we've been repeatedly saying, that general practice is becoming a more and more complex and demanding specialty and the pressure on GPs is becoming harder and harder to bear.

'The alarming increase in GPs showing signs of burnout, even at an early stage in their career, is particularly worrying. This will only compound the recruitment crisis as young doctors no longer choose general practice as a career and those that do so can only survive by working part time.'

Doctors working as GPs or planning to do so were more than twice as likely as those in other specialties to plan to work less than full time, the report found. A total of 75% of GPs plan less than full time work in future, compared with 33% of colleagues in hospital specialties.

Data from the report suggest that it is also taking longer for doctors planning to become GPs to qualify. The proportion of doctors working as qualified GPs six years after graduation fell by a quarter in the past decade.

Just 17% of doctors who graduated in 2006 are now working as a qualified GP. Ten years ago, 23% of doctors who graduated in 1996 were found to be working as a qualified GP.

The report says part of the fall may be attributable to better access to less than full-time training or career breaks during training. 

Meanwhile, the report suggested partners may be well suited to taking on CCG leadership roles. It found that 67% of doctors who aspire to be GP principals were interested in management or leadership roles compared with 44% of those who plan to be consultants.

The vast majority of GPs backed the extension of GP training to four years.

The report also found that one in four junior doctors say they do not have enough time to offer the quality of care patients deserve, and that many are working under high stress.

Dr Ben Molyneux, BMA junior doctor committee chairman, said: 'Training to be a consultant or GP should not be some sort of trial of endurance like appearing on "I’m a Celebrity…". We owe it to our patients to change the way doctors are trained.

'It is shocking that one in four junior doctors feel they do not have enough time to offer the highest quality of care to patients.'

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