At the age of 32, Amy Small, a GP in East Lothian, realised that she had more years left to work than she had lived on the planet; it was a thought that filled her with horror.
‘I realised there was no way I could continue at this pace for the next two years, let alone the next 35,’ she says. ‘I think general practice, as it stands, has become totally unsustainable as a full-time job. When you give a little piece of you to every patient you see, there isn’t much left at the end of the day for you, your partners, or your family.’
Dr Small’s experiences are far from unique; doctors in all branches of practice are warning that the increased pressure and intensity of work in the NHS is not sustainable in the long term.