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Stressed and Overworked

Date published: 28/03/2023

Stressed and Overworked is a report released by The Health Foundation last week. The contents are not a surprise to us in the LMC. We are seeing increasing numbers of colleagues and practices struggling. The persistent negative narrative in the media, years of poor government policy and unfulfilled promises, combined with the pandemic, have left General Practice across England in a precarious position. This is particularly stark in Kent and Medway where we have GP numbers which are 18% below the national average and large areas of high deprivation. What is interesting within this report are the comparisons with other countries.

The report states: ‘High GP stress and workload are a major threat to the future of the NHS. The experience of GPs in the UK should ring alarm bells for government. 71% say their job is extremely or very stressful – the highest of the 10 countries, alongside Germany. GPs in the UK also report among the lowest satisfaction with practising medicine, as well as with work-life balance, workload, time spent with patients and more. And things are getting worse: stress is up 11 percentage points since 2019 and satisfaction has fallen – now among the lowest of any country, despite UK GPs having been among the most likely to report high job satisfaction a decade ago in 2012. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll, with higher levels of emotional distress and bigger workload increases for UK GPs than in nearly all other countries. These impacts are not equal: female GPs in the UK consistently report worse experiences.

The report considers the impact of appointment length on driving GP satisfaction with patient care. The longer the duration the higher the satisfaction. The UK is one of two countries in the report to have 10-minute appointments, with the majority having 15-20 minutes. Contractually there is nothing to stop us increasing our appointment length. BMA guidance released advises practices how to manage workload and implement longer appointment times.

We are seeing more patients than ever before with lower numbers of GPs. It cannot be a coincidence that at the same time we are feeling low job satisfaction and high stress levels. Our stress is both external and internal. We have an internal drive to help our patients. Our distress is increased by frustration of long waiting lists to get specialist opinions and procedures leading to multiple patient contacts for the same problem while patients struggle. We are frustrated to see our patients suffer and experience poor service.

There are pockets of hope. Colleagues who get it right through adherence to the standard NHS contract, and a system focus on interface to reduce the transfer of work will increase our capacity. The report highlights our strength as GPs in managing chronic complex diseases. As our patient profile changes perhaps so should how we see patients. Longer appointments will save time in the long run and increase our job satisfaction. If we define the boundary of what is and is not in the gift of general practice, and define the boundary of what you can and cannot control as an individual we can improve our working conditions.

The LMC office is made up of nine staff members, you can see who we are and access our individual emails here Kent LMC - About Us. All the Medical Directors in the LMC are happy to offer pastoral support, we all work as GPs as well as for the LMC. You can email us on our individual emails or into You can contact us whether you are sessional, salaried, a partner, a locum, on maternity or sick leave. Our offer does not stop there, we support Practice Managers and other team members in the practice. Practice staff can contact the office on the above email, or individual emails (link above) or anyone can pick up the phone 01622 851197.

Take some time to self reflect – are you sleeping? Are you able to switch off at the end of day? Are you anxious or worried about your work when you are not there? When did you last have annual leave? You might want to complete the burn out self assessment on the BMA website.

Practitioner Health offer support to GPs, Practice managers and senior practice staff. This is free and you do not need to see your GP to access the service. They offer psychological support.

There are several organisations which provide support to GPs and Practice Staff, links and further details can be found on our website Kent LMC - GP and GP Staff Wellbeing.

Best wishes,


Dr Caroline Rickard
Medical Director Kent LMC