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Burnout for GPs tackling work pressures

Increased work pressures for GPs has led to them 'firefighting'

GPs are "constantly firefighting" as they try to keep up with demand, a top doctor has warned.

Family doctors are "really struggling", Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said.

The chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs said family doctors are facing a "constantly escalating" workload while they do not have enough money to keep up with demand.

The comments come as the college issued a plea for a rise in funds.

While the Department of Health in Northern Ireland announced a £3.9m investment for GP services last December, the British Medical Association has repeatedly pointed to the pressures they are facing - with the oldest GP workforce in the NHS and severe difficulties in recruiting new trainees.

Increased demands, staff shortages and funding problems have forced some rural GP surgeries to shut and led to spiralling patient delays as GPs complain of 'burnout' with massive caseloads.

In a new report, the Royal College has assessed the GP Forward View, an initiative launched in April 2016 which promised a 5,000 more GPs in England and an additional £2.4 billion to be invested in general practice each year by 2021.

It added that since the plan was published in 2016, the workforce is now 6,000 GPs short.

NHS England said that it was creating a long-term plan for the future of the health service and accused the college of "plucking implausible figures from the air".

The college has called on the health body to overhaul the plans.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said: "We are not turning our back on the GP Forward View, it remains the most constructive, indeed only, solution to tackling the intense resource and workforce pressures facing general practice, and it is making good strides in some areas.

"But it needs an urgent overhaul to address the pledges that are not progressing fast enough, particularly around retaining our existing workforce and reducing our workload."

She added: "Of course, we need to work differently in general practice, but GPs and our teams across the country are struggling - and that makes innovation almost impossible.

"Our workload is constantly escalating, both in volume and complexity, and we are constantly firefighting, trying to keep up with demand, without enough resources to do so."

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