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More doctors 'suffering with stress and increased workload'

November 23, 2015

A growing number of doctors are struggling with stress and a growing workload - something that could have a detrimental impact on sharps safety if not tackled effectively. 

The results of a survey carried out by the Royal College of GPs reveal that 99 per cent of doctors think their workload has increased over the past five years, while 94 per cent claimed fatigue has risen in the same period. 

Just under three in ten (29 per cent) GPs said they have had to seek support, guidance or advice for work-related stress over the past two years. Worryingly, 88 per cent revealed they worry that they might miss something serious with a patient as a result of their heavy workload. A further 97 per cent of doctors said their morale has dropped over the past five years.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, commented: “With the population ageing and growing in size, resulting in an increasing prevalence of serious long-term conditions, it is of little surprise that GPs’ workload has soared, while morale has plummeted.
 
“With this week’s Spending Review, the government has the opportunity to stop the rot, and start investing in a renewed general practice - based on the recommendations of the Roland Commission - which would allow family doctors, and other members of their teams, to cope with the tsunami of increasing patient need in the community."
 
The figures highlighted in the study should be worrying for all associated with the healthcare sector. With so many doctors feeling stressed and overworked, the chances of serious mistakes being made are naturally much higher.

Sharps safety is a perfect example of this. Stress and fatigue are two of the main factors that can lead to a healthcare professional suffering a sharps injury and the health problems this can cause.

The Royal College of GPs survey is not the first to highlight the issue of stress in healthcare, with research from the British Dental Association in early 2015 revealing four in ten dentists suffer from high stress levels while at work. Meanwhile, it has recently been reported that more than 70 front-line healthcare workers in the Isle of Man had to take time off work due to stress-related issues in 2014-15 - the highest figure for five years.

What can healthcare professionals do to manage stress? Getting a good amount of sleep is important for keeping on top of stress and will also help to combat problems that could be caused by fatigue. It's also important that people working in healthcare have an outlet for discussing stress problems. Feeling alone and unsupported can be a major factor in stress and if people are able to share their problems, the chances of them being resolved are much higher. 

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