A profession in poor heart

Stress among NHS nurses and GPs is now a significant problem, according to
two studies

A study, Stress Among Ward Sisters and Charge Nurses, commissioned by the
NHS Executive and conducted by the Policy Studies Institute, has discovered
that nurses in NHS hospitals are suffering stress because of a range of issues.

Key among these is the anxiety about how staffing on their wards or units is
to be arranged each day.

A separate study by the BMA found a fifth of GPs said stresses of work put
unmanageable demands on them.

Other stresses for nurses included concerns about the competence of agency
staff, workload and hours, recruitment and retention problems, poor cleaning
and domestic support and a sense of being disenfranchised from their workplace.

Report author Professor Isobel Allen said, "Much of the stress is
caused by organisational and managerial factors which they feel to be beyond
their control. They have big problems related to the infrastructure of the
organisation such as unreliable support services and old and poorly maintained

The BMA survey found a quarter of all GPs are seriously considering leaving
general practice in the next five years.

Dr John Chisholm, chairman of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee,
said, "The survey shows a profession in poor heart, with GPs paying an
unacceptable personal price for their commitment."

The fact that so many GPs admit to suffering from stress is in itself
significant. A study of GPs in Northern Ireland recently found many are too
embarrassed or reluctant to come forward and admit they might be ill or
suffering from stress.

In June, the Government outlined plans to extend occupational health and
safety services from secondary care to GPs and their practice staff.

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