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  • 1 April 2018 to 30 September 2019
  • Project No: 411
  • Funding round: FR 16

The receipt of high quality, safe care is a fundamental value for patients. General practitioners (GPs) are the most regular contact for patients. The quality of care relies on GPs. Worryingly almost half of GPs feel emotionally exhausted, cannot show compassion to patients and undervalue their achievements. This is called ‘burnout’. The nature of burnout feelings in GPs and their impact on quality of patient care and their wish to quit their job have not been examined in the English general practices.

We will try to understand:

1. the characteristics of GPs and general practices which make GPs vulnerable to burnout

2. whether GPs with burnout provide inappropriate patient care by engaging in potentially unsafe prescribing and/or high referral to specialists and they want to quit their job.

We plan a large quantitative study which will involve analysing data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) and giving questionnaires to GPs to assess feelings of burnout. We will also analyse data from the national GP Worklife Survey.

At the end of this study, we will know whether GPs with burnout are more likely to prescribe less safely and refer more and they wish to quit their job more often. We will send policy briefings and summaries to professional organisations and the NHS which will recommend regular assessments of burnout for preventing  patient safety failures in practices. This study will help to find ways to prevent burnout in GPs, to improve patient safety and reduce the loss of GPs from general practices.Stakeholder involvement and dissemination: We developed this study together with patients and GPs and we will hold discussion throughout the study to take into account their needs. We have links with the Royal College of General Practitioners and the General Medical Council to communicate our findings.