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Doctor quits 'stress' of medicine to be eco-fashion designer

Linda Thomas said long shifts would leave her 'broken'. Credit: SWNS

A GP who quit medicine to become an eco-fashion designer said that she was "broken" by long shifts and would come home "shaking" with stress.

Linda Thomas was a salaried GP at a practice in Bristol before becoming a locum but she abandoned the medical profession after changes to her job meant she eventually had enough.

She said a system, including phone assessments and pressure on appointment times, "systematically" breaks down GPs and that many of her colleagues are not planning to stay in the profession long-term.

Research from the University of Exeter Medical School revealed two out of five GPs in Bristol are planning to leave in the next five years.

Dr Thomas said: "I had to leave while I could still be the kind of doctor I wanted to be, and give patients the attention they deserved.

"If I'd stayed, I would have had to become a different type of doctor. I would be broken after a long shift.

"Sometimes I'd come home shaking. GPs are under such particular pressure - we are talking about a system that's systematically breaking down GPs."

Pressures of the job are leading to problems in recruitment and retention. Credit: PA

The number of unfilled GP posts quadrupled between 2012 and 2014 and last year, medical practices reported a recruitment crisis causing some surgeries to close.

"These are some incredibly dedicated and talented people, yet I don't know anyone who is planning to stay in general practice in the long term," Dr Thomas added.

"It's about understanding that these are resilient and dedicated doctors.

"I'm of a generation where as a junior doctor we would go to work on a Saturday morning and not finish our shift until Monday evening.

"We have all made it past that point and so have had to learn ways to manage stress and tiredness but this system is now so relentless.

"We don't need to get taught new ways to change ourselves we need system change so that it supports both GPs and their patients."

GPs are fed up with unlimited demands of the job, according to researchers. Credit: PA

Prof John Campbell of the University of Exeter Medical School led researchthat found that GPs were "fed up" with "unlimited demands" with many thinking of leaving the service due to the risk of litigation and work pressures.

Dr Campbell said: "Our new research is a significant study of what is driving the exodus of GPs from direct patient care.

"Policy makers need to take this on board and address these issues to retain GPs and encourage medical students to take up a career in general practice.

"Despite recent government plans to address the problem, numbers are continuing to fall.

"If we do not act now, many areas will face a severe shortfall in the number of GPs providing care for patients in their area."