The Pressures Causing GP Stress

For many of us, the first half of 2022 has seen us slowly get back to some form of ‘normal’. As restrictions have lifted and we start to follow the government’s latest Living with Covid guidance1, there’s one group who are finding themselves facing a new set of challenges in a post-pandemic landscape.

GPs are navigating increased numbers of patients, high levels of staff absence due to circulating Covid strains and fewer colleagues to help shoulder the load than before the pandemic began1.

The nation’s GPs face a unique set of stresses and pressures in their everyday roles, and many are finding these heightened as they struggle to juggle more patients, often with fewer resources. Issues such as the backlog in NHS waiting lists in turn have a huge impact on local surgeries.

Patients struggling with conditions often require ongoing support while they wait for elective surgery, making their first point of call their GP. This is just one example of the issues challenging GPs across the UK on a day-to-day basis.

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The risk of medical stress

So, what does this mean for our doctors and their risk of suffering medical stress?

In 2020, even before the challenges of the pandemic crept in, a survey2 found that 90% of GPs were facing high levels of pressure from their regular workloads. Additional factors such as admin and finding the time to fulfil their roles were making a stressful combination of factors even harder for primary care staff to navigate.

Today, GPs are feeling the pressure in the face of the government’s Living with Covid advice, making the risk of medical stress for doctors even greater. According to GP Online, GPs across the country are struggling to meet an increasing demand for consultations with soaring levels of staff sickness due to Covid.

As the virus continues to sweep the UK, higher numbers of patients are seeking support from their GP as their first port of call. The problem is, surgeries are experiencing high numbers of staff absence due to employees catching Covid, stretching resources further still.

We’re all aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy work life balance, ensuring we keep on top of our own emotional and physical wellbeing. With the challenges that continue to face them, it seems that GPs are increasingly vulnerable to some degree of medical stress for the foreseeable future.

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The future for GP stress levels

With some doctors estimating that it could take years for NHS waiting lists to clear their backlogs3, the pressure on GP stress levels doesn’t look likely to be easing up anytime soon. It’s crucial that those GPs facing ongoing stress prioritise their own mental and physical wellbeing, and that means finding sustainable ways to face the long-term pressures of the role.  

High levels of ongoing work stress can lead to burnout, a state of physical and mental exhaustion often triggered by a pressured job. Burnout can be caused by a long-term failure to strike a healthy work life balance, so factors like working long hours and trying to juggle family life could lead to GPs experiencing this common health issue.

Symptoms include feeling constantly tired, loneliness, feeling overwhelmed, doubting one’s decisions and a negative view of the world in general4.

Burnout is just one of the conditions that can impact the wellbeing of GPs in the face of long-term medical stress. There’s no easy answer to the current strains on surgery staff, but help and support is available for anyone struggling.

The NHS GP Health Service offers confidential support to NHS workers around the clock. Staff in need of urgent personal support can text NHSPH to 85258 to receive professional support from NHS Practitioner Health.


  • GPs report rising pressure as government warned over ‘abandoning NHS’
  • 2Policy Research Unit in Commissioning and the Healthcare System. 2017. Ninth National GP Worklife Survey.
  • Special Report ‘No-one wants to be a GP anymore’
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This is a marketing article by Towergate Insurance. 

The information contained in this article is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general risk management and insurance information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such. If you wish to discuss your specific requirements, please do not hesitate to contact your usual Towergate Insurance adviser.