Workforce and Training

17.02.16

UK tops international tables in GP stress and care co-ordination problems

More GPs experience problems with stress and co-ordination of care in the UK than in other countries with comparable healthcare systems, according to a new Health Foundation report.

The report, based on the Foundation’s analysis of a Commonwealth Fund survey of doctors in 11 countries including 1,001 GPs from the UK, found that the UK topped the table in stress. Almost 60% of respondents found general practice extremely or very stressful and 22% were made ill by stress in the past year.

The UK was the country with the greatest number of respondents (70%) saying they found it somewhat or very difficult to co-ordinate care with social services or other community providers, and 79% saying lack of co-ordination caused their patients problems.

Edward Davies, policy fellow at the Health Foundation, said: “This complex array of relationships between different parts of the health and care system and how they are coordinated needs to be better understood to safeguard the quality of patient care.”

Other problems with patient care included 48% of GPs saying they had had to repeat tests or procedures because results were unavailable and 92% saying their consultations lasted 15 minutes or less.

GPs also reported high levels of wanting to leave general practice, with 29% intending to retire or switch careers in the next five years.

Overall, only 67% of UK GPs said they were satisfied with practicing medicine, with only the USA, France and Germany reporting worse satisfaction rates.

The UK also had the steepest decline, from 84% satisfaction reported in the last survey in 2012, although that survey had a different sample size and methodology.

There was a similar decline in GPs feeling that the system works well and that only minor changes were needed – down from 46% in 2012 to 22% in 2015.

However, the UK did lead the other countries in GPs’ use of electronic systems for functions including generating a list of a patient’s medications (96% of GPs), laboratory results (90%) and clinical summaries (78%).

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