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Majority of GPs fear missing diagnosis due to workload

Nine out of 10 GPs worry about missing something serious during a consultation due to an increased workload, according to a Royal College of GPs poll.

Moreover, 99% of 504 respondents said workload had risen, 97% believed morale had worsened, and 94% felt fatigue had increased over the past five years.

The survey, carried out last month by ComRes, found that 88% of respondents feared missing a vital clue during an appointment due to this increasing workload.

The family doctors were also asked: “What impact, if any, would extending current services to provide seven-day access to routine patient care in general practice have on your plans for your future career in general practice?”

The result varied with age, as half of those under 30 said it would make them more likely to leave in the next year, while for those aged 30-39 it was 84%, 40-49 (80%), 50-59 (77%) and 60 and over (86%).

This is in line with research released last month, when 82% of 1,192 GPs stated that they intend to leave general practice, take a career break and/or reduce clinical hours of work within the next five years. They identified the most important requirements to address the workforce crisis as: reducing workload intensity, volume, and administrative activities; increased time for patient care; and no out-of-hour commitments.

Three in ten GPs (31%) in the survey said they think it is unlikely their current surgery will still be open in 10 years' time.

Announcing his 'new deal' for GPs back in June, Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health said: “The role and purpose of seven day primary care is about much more than convenience - it is about making sure precious hospital capacity is kept clear for those who really need it. We have clear evidence from Imperial College London that a lack of access to GPs at weekends results in increases in urgent hospital admissions.

“As Professor Sir Bruce Keogh develops his new model for urgent and emergency care, we need to make sure general practice plays its part in improving access to routine appointments.”