GP fatigue 'posing a risk to patient safety'

Medical Government/ NHS related news

Overworked GPs are becoming increasingly fatigued, which is putting their ability to provide high-quality care for patients at risk.

This is according to a new report from the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), which blames the problem on escalating workload pressures at a time when patient numbers are skyrocketing and resources are drying up.

“The Royal College of GPs has warned that fatigue among doctors is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem that could jeopardise patient care quality.“

Between 2008-9 and 2013-14, the number of GP consultations rose by 19 percent in England alone, but the total number of GPs across the UK grew by just 4.1 percent in the same period.

Exacerbating this problem is the fact that there is no system in place for GPs to provide a 'distress signal' to alert those around them that they can no longer safely take on any additional work.

As such, the royal college has recommended a number of measures to address the problem, such as regular, mandatory breaks for staff to minimise the possibility of errors, a mechanism to identify practices under extreme workload pressures, and a review of how daily pressures in general practice can be reduced.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: "Our intention is not to panic patients but to send out a preemptive strike to ensure that we take steps now to protect patients from the risks arising from doctor and staff fatigue."

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