Four in five GPs have reported feelings of anxiety, stress or depression in the past year, according to a campaign group that has called on the government to address staff shortages, a key pressure affecting the mental health of doctors.
The survey findings, published by the Rebuild General Practice (RGP) campaign ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, showed that 48% of medical practices have had GPs leave their employment due to mental health issues or “burnout” over the past five years, while 51% have lost staff because of unmanageable workloads.
Eighty-four per cent of the 1,395 GPs polled have experienced anxiety, stress or depression in the past 12 months and 24% have lost a colleague to suicide due to work pressures.
Fifty-six per cent of GPs and their staff have experienced “mental abuse” because of their jobs over the past year.
The campaign group has called for the government to help reduce the pressure on GPs by developing a plan to reduce their workload, tackle the factors driving colleagues out of the profession – including burnout – and to deliver on its commitment to recruit an additional 6,000 GPs in England by 2024.
NHS England has lost almost 2,000 full-time equivalent GPs since 2015, according to the British Medical Association.
NHS Digital data showed doctors in England were seeing an average of 46 patients a day in January 2022, while GPs in Wales saw 33 and GPs in Scotland saw 28. Twenty-five is deemed safe, said RGP.
Dr Rachel Ward from the Rebuild General Practice campaign said: ”Years of underfunding and neglect has severely damaged general practice leaving us with a skeleton staff across Great Britain and no plan for filling the gaps. Meanwhile patient appointments are at an all-time high.
“As GPs we are trying to find solutions and we are crying out for help – for our patients but also as human beings who are simply trying to offer excellent care and look after our communities. We need urgent support to rebuild general practice.”