Tired GPs urged to take more breaks amid patient safety fears


GPs are being urged to take regular breaks over fears that tired doctors could pose a threat to patient safety.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has issued a new poster campaign to every practice in the country making the case that "a rested GP is a safer GP".

Under a banner of "Your safety should always come first", the poster shows how pilots, train drivers and lorry drivers have limits on the number of hours they can work.

The RCGP said that general practice - like aviation and long haul driving - is a "safety critical industry" and that the rules for preventing fatigue in pilots and train drivers should also apply to GPs in their surgeries.

A discussion paper published by the RCGP last year highlighted growing fatigue amongst overworked GPs as a threat to patient safety.

Some GPs are now routinely seeing between 40 and 60 patients a day, according to the College.

Chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker, called for the Government to invest in employing more GPs as many are at "breaking point" and tired doctors are more likely to make mistakes.

She said: "Most people would not get on a plane flown by a tired pilot, or jump on a train where they knew the driver had already worked a 12-hour day - and most patients would not choose to be the 40th or 50th patient at the end of a long day in surgery.

"Rising patient demand, excessive bureaucracy, fewer resources, and a chronic shortage of GPs are resulting in worn-out doctors, some of whom are so fatigued that they can no longer guarantee to provide safe care to patients."