A quarter of practices have seen increasing amounts of sick leave taken by staff, a Local Medical Committee (LMC) survey has shown.
Leaders at Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire LMC said the increase could be sue to “significant stress”.
In April and May 157 practices were surveyed in the area. Dr Peter Graves, chair of the LMC, said “well over 1%” of GPs in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire had been receiving support due to stress.
Dr Graves told GP magazine Pulse: “Some [are] really quite ill. I continue to pressurise clinical commissioning groups to commission a specialist service for doctors who, it is very well documented, are a ‘hard to reach’ group and can put patients at risk if they work when unwell.”
Just under a third of practices (30%) had at least one unfilled doctor’s position. And 22 practices had vacancies for one or more partners. Twenty-eight practices had vacancies for salaried GPs.
Practices were invited to provide comments along with the survey, with many complaining about stress in general practice.
One respondent wrote: “The recruitment issues involving clinical staff do cause pressures around access for patients and trying to find and employ locums. But they are not the biggest issues I face as a PM.
“The other pressure areas are around finance, increased demand for appointments, more demanding and critical patients, funding concerns, the changes to the quality and outcomes framework and the enhanced services.”
Another respondent wrote: “The pressures are too great for the amount of work we are being asked to undertake and the ability to provide the number of staff suitable to be able to achieve this. The staff are constantly complaining of the stress levels and the increased workload.
“The surgery is unable to provide additional staff to reduce the stress purely because of the financial constraints placed upon us.”
The full survey is available to view on the LMC website.