Britain's family doctors are suffering from increasing levels of stress due to excessive workloads, pressure from patients, too many government 'initiatives' and interference from NHS managers.
A poll for BBCís 'Now Youíre Talking' programme and medical magazine 'Pulse' found that four out of five GPs are stressed and many expect their stress levels to increase with the introduction of their new NHS contract.
The survey found that that problem is getting worse, with six out of ten GPs more stressed now than they were a year ago. Five per cent of GPs also say that they are clinically depressed.
Seven out of ten GPs believe that the new NHS contract, which comes into effect in April, will increase their stress levels. This will force many medical practices to reorganise the way they work but will also allow GPs to choose not to work evenings and weekends.
Dr John Chisholm of the British Medical Association said the new contract would benefit GPs and their patients, although some stress was inevitable with any change.
But while doctors might be stressed, at least they have widespread public respect. In its annual poll of trust in the professions, MORI has found that more than nine out of ten members of the public (92 per cent) trust doctors to tell the truth. This is higher than the rating for any other professional group included in the poll, and the highest since it began in 1983.
More than nine in ten members of the public are also satisfied with the way doctors do their jobs, compared with fewer than three in ten for politicians. Most believe doctors are hardworking, committed, and helpful.