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  • 1 January 2016 to 28 February 2017
  • Project No: 282
  • Funding round: FR 10

High stress and reduced well-being are common amongst doctors, including General Practitioners (GPs). Doctors, including GPs, are more likely to experience mental health symptoms, including anxiety, low mood, depression, stress and burnout.  Doctors are at greater risk of suicide compared with the general population. Despite this need, evidence suggests that the NHS workforce, including doctors, have insufficient access, and face barriers, to mainstream healthcare provision.  To date, little research has focused on the mental health of the NHS workforce, including doctors working in general practice. GPs’ mental health difficulties are not just problematic for the individuals concerned – they impact on the safety of patients. Additionally, when a GP is absent from work or retires early through stress and burnout, it makes the primary care system less sustainable.

 Consequently, identifying what helps GPs to seek support, or what hinders them from doing so, including accessing timely, good quality care and enabling them to return to work, is crucial in ensuring their mental health needs are met.  Undertaking this research will therefore enable us understand the barriers and facilitators to help-seeking, and to identify solutions, so that current and future GPs can access suitable care when necessary.  Understanding more about GPs’ experiences of the provision of safe, supportive and appropriate care is also an important step in addressing workforce shortages. This study will form the foundation for a programme of work, which will aim to inform improvements to designated care pathways and support systems, so that all doctors, not only GPs, can access effective and timely care when necessary.