Accessibility statement

Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on GP wellbeing

Research exploring GP experiences during COVID-19 aims to inform future policy and practice in order to improve GPs’ working lives

NHS general practitioners (GPs) have reported increasing stress and 'burnout' over recent years. This matters not just to doctors, but also to patients and to the health care system. During the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, there were many new sources of stress for GPs. They had to adapt quickly to the disease and to changing guidelines, rapidly reducing face-to-face patient care. They were also worried about their safety and that of their family, friends and colleagues, as well as about sick patients who were, for many reasons, not consulting the NHS as they normally would. They now play a large part in the challenge to deliver vaccines to the population.

Some of the changes, however, could potentially reduce stress and even improve the job satisfaction and working lives of some GPs, particularly in the longer term. In the first wave of the pandemic, there was an outpouring of public support for NHS workers and increased financial investment in the NHS. During ‘lockdown’, GPs’ workload may have reduced, probably temporarily, as patients were less likely to attend. Many GPs are still working over the telephone or internet. alongside face-to-face appointments.

In 2020 we were commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research to undertake three connected studies, which aimed to explore the impact of COVID-19 on GPs’ wellbeing, job satisfaction and future intentions. This research hoped to identify whether any responses to the pandemic could be applied to improve the future working lives of GPs and inform future government policy. 

What did the GP wellbeing and COVID study do?

We carried out three complementary studies as part of this mixed methods project:

Study one
We reviewed systematically the existing evidence on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of GPs internationally. A published journal article for this project can be found at the British Journal of General Practice:

Study two
We used Twitter to find UK doctors commenting on their experiences of COVID-19, and find out how their views have changed over the course of the pandemic.

Study three
We interviewed 40 GPs, selected for variations in career stage and other important characteristics, seeking to understand more about their experiences and wellbeing during COVID-19, and things that particularly helped or hindered their working lives.

Read the final report - Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on GP wellbeing (PDF , 1,612kb)


Funder(s):  NIHR Policy Research Programme
Start Date: November 2020
End Date: August 2021


Project Leads

Internal Collaborators:

External Collaborators:

  • Prof Michael West CBE 
  • Dame Prof Dr Clare Gerada 
  • Prof Mike Holmes 


Illustration of people working