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Young GPs and junior doctors face rising levels of work-related stress, BMA report finds

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Trying to achieve a good 'work-life balance' is the biggest source of workplace stress for young GPs and junior doctors, a report from the British Medical Association (BMA) has revealed.

The seventh report on the BMA's Cohort Doctor Study, which tracks the career progress of 430 doctors who qualified in 2006, found 34% of newly qualified GPs stated they had 'high' or 'very high' work-related stress. In addition to this they reported these high-levels of stress are "unacceptable".

Respondents to the study were asked to what impact work-related stress had on their workplace behaviours or intentions. They indicated it was 'more likely' to encourage them to leave the NHS (39%) or work overseas (33%).

The study also found work-related stress had a negative effect on work morale and decreased their willingness to work above contracted hours.

Some 90% felt that dissatisfaction with their work-life balance is a factor why people leave medicine. In context of this response, just over half (57%), who had worked in the UK within the previous 12 months, said they did not find it easy to balance work obligations and personal family responsibilities.

The report also suggested it is taking longer for doctors planning to become GPs to qualify. The proportion of doctors working as qualified GPs six years after graduation fell by a quarter in the past decade.

Just 17% of doctors who graduated in 2006 are now working as a qualified GP. Ten years ago, 23% of doctors who graduated in 1996 were found to be working as a qualified GP.

NHS Employers organisation chief executive Dean Royles, said: "With more than 40,000 extra doctors over the last decade, this BMA report is further proof that the contract is no longer fit for purpose and needs rapid change.

"It's clear that the work of junior doctors is demanding but it shouldn't feel like an endurance trial. Nor should it be like the X Factor final, where all the focus and investment is on one act."

Royles added: "It's the contribution of the entire healthcare team of doctors, nurses, scientists and health professionals working in harmony that drives great patient care."