More than a quarter of Northern Ireland GPs feel they cannot cope with the stress every week, a survey showed.
A shortage of family doctors left those in place struggling to cope with rising demand and are having to work harder, over longer hours, to provide care for their communities, according to the research for the Royal College of General Practitioners.
RCGPNI chair, Dr Grainne Doran, said she was concerned, but not surprised.
Dr Alison Cooper: Workload pressures, stress, interruptions, chaos, bombardments, hunger, all feature regularly in GP's day. #patientsafety— RCGP (@rcgp) February 28, 2017
She said: “Due to the GP workforce shortage, family doctors are working under extremely challenging conditions to ensure that all patients receive care when they need it.
“It is clear that this pressure is taking its toll on family doctors across the region.
“GPs across Northern Ireland want to provide compassionate care, and many GPs repeatedly go above and beyond for their patients when they need it most.
“However, for GPs to continue providing this level of care, we need to ensure they are also able to look after their own wellbeing.”
The ComRes survey was commissioned by the RCGPNI and found 26% said they were so stressed they felt they could not cope at least once a week.
Dr Doran added: “During Mental Health Awareness Week, I strongly encourage GPs to look out for themselves and their colleagues.
“We must do all we can to protect our wellbeing. GPs in Northern Ireland can get access to an occupational health service and I hope that those who need access to it feel able to do so. There is no stigma in seeking help.”
In December, the Department of Health announced investment of £3.9 million for GP services in Northern Ireland.
It said £1.7 million would tackle challenges posed by the country’s ageing population, while £2.2 million would increase the value of the GP contract by 1%.