GPs comprise roughly 50% of the patient seen at PHS (67% female, 33% male). 67% of GPs have been working at presentation. 88% of these present with mental illness (common and complex), making this the most common presentation. 10% present with addiction problems with the remaining 2% falling into the ‘other’ category. With GPs being on the frontline of the NHS acting as the first point of contact for patients, the workload placed on these doctors is ever-increasing whilst resources are diminishing.
This results in more and more GPs struggling to cope with the burden placed on them. With short time slots and increasingly complex demands, these doctors are experiencing more job dissatisfaction and higher levels of anxiety, low mood and burnout.
GP trainees or those newly qualified tend to be more at risk of developing anxiety, due to their new responsibilities without having had time yet to build confidence and manage risk.
When a practice comes under increasing burden, such as the loss of partners or funding cuts, it can cause the pressure placed on the remaining staff to heighten. As workloads increase and there is more reliance on locums within the practice (which lead to costs being driven up further), GPs may start to experience lower mood that can develop into depression as they have to work longer and longer hours just to keep the practice afloat.
Complaints can also be the trigger for GPs and other doctors to develop a mental illness. Whilst working very hard throughout their career and perhaps never having previously faced a performance issue, complaints can feel very personal. The doctor in question can begin to feel that all the effort and hard work they put in goes unappreciated and a worsening in their mental illness may then have further consequences at work. A depressive illness may lead to erratic or inappropriate behaviour in the workplace which then worsens the situation further.