Relentless Stress Of Job Led To GP Taking Time Off Work With Burnout

Doctors’ experiences of stress and burnout in the workplace are now worse than they’ve ever been, according to a report published by NHS Practitioner Health.

Health implications Of A Burnout

This study has shown that there is a link between job stress and a doctor’s likelihood of developing health issues. Doctors’ illness absence rates may rise as a result of the effect of workplace stress on their health, endangering patient safety due to understaffing.

Additionally, the report noted that poor mental health, insufficient staffing, pressure on medical personnel, and a lack of appreciation were important contributors to GP burnout.

According to statistics from a specialised treatment centre for NHS employees, the number of doctors seeking care for mental health difficulties has increased by more than 75% in the past two years.

The report warns that a vicious cycle of unmanageable workloads and burnout is driving increasing numbers of staff out of the health service.

GP Burnout

One doctor of medicine took three months off work due to burnout as a result of the job’s constant stress.

High-stress circumstances are nothing new to David Triska. He completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan as an army medic.

He felt “hollowed out and spent” as a result of the increasing workload at his village GP surgery. Simple actions like making a meal or unlocking his car were difficult for him, and he says that he now feels “like a husk of a human” as a result.

“At that extreme point, I couldn’t see why I needed to be here any more,” Dr Triska said.

It’s not just him. According to statistics provided to the BBC by a private support organisation for NHS employees, the number of doctors seeking help for mental health difficulties has increased by 77% since the year ending March 2021.

This is why there is so much talk of GP burnout leading to a crisis in primary care.

In England, more than 5,600 doctors used the NHS Practitioner Health initiative in 2022–2023; about a third of them admitted to having considered suicide.

According to Zaid Al-Najjar, the medical director of the service, the majority of instances were caused by challenging working conditions.

The results “reflect distress in the workforce” and the NHS is anticipated to see its busiest season throughout the winter, he said.

For Dr. Triska, it required a co-worker’s involvement before he noticed he was experiencing burnout, which is a syndrome brought on by ongoing working stress and is associated with feelings of tiredness.

Despite receiving support from NHS Practitioner Health, he still had to take three months off from work in 2020 at his Witley, Surrey, office.

“That was the only way to recuperate, which is extraordinary in a time when we are the people supposed to be providing care and it’s impossible in our own workplace and work system to provide that care for ourselves,” he said.

Dr. Al-Najjar claimed that “chronic underfunding of the NHS” and “extraordinary” working conditions caused by the pandemic led to the mental health problems they addressed.

“A service like ours, offering confidential care, has never been more important,” he said.

He also stated he feared the increase in people using the service was “just the tip of the iceberg”, adding: “There will be a lot of people still worried about obtaining help, because they are worried about the effect it might have on their career.”

Doctors Using Mental Health Support Services Rises 77% Over Two Years

Source: NHS Practitioner Health

In 2008, the NHS Practitioner Health service was established in London to offer doctors private help. By 2021, it had been extended to include all doctors in England and was accessible to all eligible NHS employees.

The service was utilised by 3,194 doctors in England in 2020–21, 4,814 in 2021/22 and 5,667 in 2022–23, according to data gathered by BBC South East.

Approximately 90% of users of the service are physicians, with GPs making up an excessive 40% of the total.

The findings, according to the British Medical Association (BMA), are a “stark and painful reminder of the immense pressures” that GPs are under.

There is not enough staff to handle the surge in patient demand, according to Dr Samira Anane, deputy chair of the BMA’s GP committee. She continued, “All of this puts an enormous amount of pressure on GPs.”

Rise In Trainees Greater Than Drop In Fully-Qualified GPs

Source: NHS Digital

Approximately 90% of users of the service are physicians, with GPs making up an excessive 40% of the total.

More than 40% of doctors felt unable to cope with their workload each week in 2022, up from 30% in 2021, according to a survey by the General Medical Council.

The government says the NHS England workforce plan aims to train more doctors and nurses, and thousands of new roles will be created to work alongside them.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “The wellbeing of all those working in the NHS is vital and extensive coaching and support and practitioner mental health services are available for all staff.

“There are more than 2,000 additional doctors and 31,000 additional staff working in general practice compared to June 2019 as well as a record number of trainees.”

In conclusion burnout is not the fault of doctors. Doctors should not be stigmatised because it is a normal, human response to outside stressors. The NHS needs to address the root causes of burnout and stop it from endangering the wellbeing of the medical professionals.

If you would like further information about ‘How To Avoid Burnout’ please visit or contact Lynn Warren at


GP Burnout: ‘I Was Left Feeling Like A Husk Of A Human’. (2023). BBC News. [online] 5 Oct. Available at: [Accessed 7 Oct. 2023].

About the author : Andrew Warren